September 29, 2010

Mango Ice Cream

Mango Ice Cream

I bought a large box of mangoes in the summer and thought I'd be eating mango everyday and doing all sorts of desserts but things came up and suddenly these oval, fragrant fruits all seemed to get ripe at the same time.

Knowing I would not be able to use them up, I started sharing with my friends. I hate wasted food. We ate a few and then it came down to 3 left and I felt like mango ice cream. However, I couldn't make a typical custard based ice cream because I didn't have any eggs on hand so I scoured some of my cookbooks and the Internet.

I had a hard time finding something that fit the bill so this is where I decided to experiment. Every once in a while, I get the urge to do this and it takes me back to my days of being a lab rat and throwing chemicals together. Very similar practice, baking/cooking and chemistry, is what I say often to people.

The recipe turned out well enough, though it was really HARD to scoop. You have to let it warm up a bit from the freezer. Maybe another hit of vodka would have made it a bit easier. I'm talking about a shot into the ice cream, not for myself. haha.


Mango Ice Cream
makes about 1 liter

600g (pulp of 3 mangoes) pureed mango
1 tsp lemon juice
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup table cream (18% mf)
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp vodka

Puree the pulp of 3 mangoes in a food processor until smooth. Blend in the lemon juice. Set aside.

In a saucepan, dissolve the sugar with the cream over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add pureed mango, sour cream and vodka.

Chill for a couple hours or overnight. Freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

September 23, 2010

Home-grown Tomato

Homegrown Tomato with Quarter as reference

The frost that hit us the last week caused a big harvest of vegetables and fruit at our home. I thought I'd share the HUGE tomato my hubby grew.

And for your reference, that is a QUARTER in the picture. Not a dime or nickel. A quarter. Uh huh.

We're still eating that sucker!

September 22, 2010

Appetizer: Hummus in Cucumber Cups

Hummus in Cucumber Cups- Appetizer

At my home, the calendar is the boss. If an event or appointment doesn't go onto the calendar, it doesn't exist, at least to me, or until someone calls me up and asks "where the heck are you?". This has happened, unfortunately, one too many times. Sigh. I'm a slave to that dang calendar.

It was a Saturday and I knew we were visiting friends that evening. An hour before we are to leave, I walk past the calendar and noticed a "Bring Appetizer" note. Damn! I knew my fridge was low in terms of content too. Double damn!

"We'll just stop by the grocery store on the way there" my hubby says.

"No, I don't want a store-bought appetizer."

Think, THINK!

I stand in front of the refrigerator, with the door wide open, cooling my house, while I rummage through the drawers, trying to get inspired. I swear I hear an annoying cackle come from the direction of my calendar. The beeping of the fridge door, due to it being open, was just making it more stressful.

A small container of homemade hummus but nope, no pita chips. Carrots, ketchup, eggs, cucumbers.

Cucumbers! Ah-ha!

And this is where I do a dance of joy, thinking, hot-diggity-damn, I'm one smart cookie. Hummus in cucumber cups. It is a perfect little finger food idea and a great 1-2 bite appetizer. And you can use a variety of ideas for garnish.

Score: Me - 1, Calendar - 0. Until next time, Mr. Calendar.


Hummus in Cucumber Cups

long english cucumber

garnish ideas:
grated carrots
cilantro or parsley or sprig of dill
toasted pinenuts

Using a carrot peeler, peel strips off the outer skin of the cucumber to give a design or leave as is.

Cut the cucumber into 1 inch or 1.5 inch sections. Scoop out and discard half of the insides, creating a cup.

Scoop prepared hummus into each cup and sprinkle with your choice of garnish. Serve.

September 20, 2010

Multi-Grain Bread: Bread Machine Recipe

Fresh Baked Bread from the Breadmaker

Upon removing the first loaf from the bread machine, I thought, why is it shaped like that? It wasn't anything like the typical loaf of sliced bread you purchase from the supermarket, the perfectly rectangular block with no dents or grooves. But, I have to say I have grown to love my breads quirky appearance.

Just look at those sweet cheeks! I just want to pinch them!

When I buy or make breads, I prefer multi-grain versus white breads for sandwiches. I used an 8-grain cereal, as that is what I had on hand, but you may use the 12-grain version too. This simple recipe is great for sandwiches as it turns out light and fluffy.


Multi-Grain Bread: Bread Machine Recipe
makes 1 large loaf

1- 1/3 cup warm water
2 tbsp oil

2-1/3 cup white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup 8-grain cereal
2 tbsp brown sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 tsp yeast

Place the warm water and oil into the bread pan. Put the rest of the dry ingredients in order.

Place the bread pan into the machine. Choose the basic bread or whole grain, if you have it, setting. Remove from pan and let cool on rack.

Recipe adapted from: Multi-Grain Loaf, Canadian Bread Machine Baking

September 17, 2010

Bought Myself a Bread Maker

Bread in the Breakmaker

I don't think I mentioned that I bought a bread machine. I bought it back in the spring and have been making a bread loaf once every week and a half or so. (We're not very big bread eaters at this home, though, now with school lunches, the consumption has risen.)

When I first brought it home, I was very excited. Read the manual, cleaned it out, plugged it in. Woo hoo, gonna make me some fresh bread. I measured all the ingredients, which took me 5 minutes, poured them into the bread machine pan, and then hit go and walked away.

It was all very anti-climatic.

This bread machine kinda took the joy out of making bread. I felt a little like someone who paid for an "escort". Yes, you get the goods but there is no romance.

I didn't get to feel the dough or knead it to get the right consistency. Didn't do peakaboo's under the dish towel to see how far along it was rising. Didn't get to poke it lovingly every chance I get during the proofing. I didn't feel that I could say that I made bread.

Now truth be told, before I bought the bread machine, I would usually use my stand mixer to knead the dough but it still is more hands on work. With the bread machine, there is very little clean up too. Felt so strange. As I said earlier, you get the goods, but there is no romance. No butterflies building along the way, no falling in love or getting-to-know your bread before you consume it.

Am I the only one who feels a little dirty after buying a bread machine?

September 13, 2010

Balsamic-marinated Vegetables Roasted in the BBQ

balsamic marinated vegetables

I love things that are barbecued. The smoky flavor, that can't be reproduced in the oven, is what makes me fire up the BBQ time and time again. Spring, summer, fall and even in the winter (if it's not TOO cold outside).

This is one of my favorite recipes side dishes to make when I'm entertaining. I love veggies but when it is BBQ roasted, it is out of this world. The balsamic vinegar leaves a subtle sweetness and tang that goes well with the smoke and salt.

I use a variety of vegetables, whatever I have on hand. Onions, red peppers and mushrooms seem to be a staple. Slices of zucchini or asparagus, depending on what is in season, work really well too.

The key is to let it marinate for as long as you can before you barbecue. Trust me.


Balsamic-marinated Vegetables Roasted in the BBQ

Your choice of vegetables:
Onions, Red or other color bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, asparagus, etc cut into small bite size pieces into a bowl.

Enough Balsamic vinegar and olive oil to lightly coat all the vegetables.

Sprinkle enough salt, to your taste, to coat the vegetables.

Marinate the vegetables for a minimum of 1/2 hour, or more if you have the time. (I marinate sometimes for several hours). Roast the vegies in a proper grilling basket for the bbq, over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes or until the vegies are soft and slightly blackened. Stir the vegetable often. Remove from heat and serve.

September 8, 2010

Travels: Mario's Gelati in Vancouver

Enjoying a gelato at Mario's Gelati

I really, really wanted to mention Mario's Gelati. Hands down, one of the best makers of gelato that I have ever tasted. The texture is so smooth and the gelato has the perfect balance in that it is not overly sweet or heavy.

And the flavors? PLENTIFUL. I have such a difficult time picking one flavor to enjoy while we are there. This last visit, I enjoyed Nocciola which is hazelnut flavor. Out of this world and it is apparently imported directly from Piedmont, Italy. So very good and creamy.

There are also flavors there that I have never seen before. I've seen green tea before but durian or black sesame gelato? These folks are on it.

I actually sent them an email asking if there are any restaurants or stores that sell their products here. They have distributors as far as Calgary and Winnipeg but I think they need it here in Edmonton too! I'll update this post if I hear back from them.

Less than a block away from the famous Olympic Village, their fantastic glass-front building is a definite must stop for me and my family.

Mario's Gelati Ltd.
88 East 1st Avenue,
Vancouver, B.C.


UPDATE: Email received from Mario's Gelati:

"Hello Maki,

Thank you for your email and for enjoying our products!! Our gelato is available by the scoop at Block 1912 ,10361 82 Ave NW, (780) 433-6575. You can also try contacting Ice Cream Depot which distributes some of our products to different locations in Edmonton.

Hope this helps!

Warmest Regards,

Mario's Gelati

September 7, 2010

Travels: Urban Fare and Granville Island Public Market

Pastry and Sweets at Urban Fare in Vancouver

As I mentioned in my post before I left on vacation, I wasn't going to give one iota about how many calories I was going to consume. I can say, with all honestly, I stuck to that statement. I ate my calories as if "Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999". Go hard or go home.

One of my favorite places to grocery shop when are in Vancouver's downtown core is Urban Fare. My husband used to work in the Yaletown district, when we lived there, and we would buy fresh buns, meat and cheeses to enjoy for a little picnic next to the harbor. I'm always amazed by their vast amount of gourmet products, mouthwatering cheeses and plentiful fresh fruits and vegetables.

This time around, I could not go past the bakery without picking up some baked goods. My kids were quite pleased with that and with the large cookies (size of their heads!) that we bought them. Every bite was worth the sugar-high hyper moments.


Vendor Booths at Granville Island Public Market

With a short ferry ride across the water, we arrived at Granville Island. We immediately wandered into the Public Market and perused all the vendor booths.

A visual frenzy for the eyes which will surely make a dent in the pocket book as one cannot leave without a purchase. Whether it's fresh fruit and vegies, a bouquet of colorful flowers, or an ample assortments of baked goods or kitchen goods for baking, you can find it here. Granville Island is a definite must when in the Vancouver region.


Urban Fare -Yaletown location
177 Davie Street
Vancouver, BC

Granville Island Public Market
1689 Johnston Street
Vancouver, BC

September 6, 2010

Travels: Photo Essay - Grouse Mountain Skyride, Animal Refuge, Chairlift Rides and Eating Beaver Tails

Grouse Mountain Skyride and Eagle in Birds of Motion Demonstration
Grouse Mountain Skyride and an Eagle during the Birds of Motion Demonstration

Grinder and Coola - Grizzly Bear Refuge atop of Grouse Mountain
Grinder and Coola - Orphaned grizzly bears in their refuge atop of Grouse Mountain

Chair Lift at Grouse Moutain
Chair Lift

Eating Beaver Tails atop of Grouse Mountain
Eating Beaver Tails atop of Grouse Mountain

My fave: Seeing the amazing grizzlies up close and watching them play and occupy themselves in their habitat. But by far, most fantastic experience was being atop of the world with the chairlift ride. Peacefully quiet and the scenery is out of this world. It almost felt like an out-of-body experience. Highly recommend it.

September 3, 2010

Travels: English Bay, Stanley Park and Falafel King Restaurant

English Bay and Stanley Park

YEARS ago, when I once used to live in Vancouver, this was my haunt. I lived in the west end, one block in from sunset beach and a short jaunt away from beautiful English Bay and a slight jog away from the amazing Stanley Park.

There is something about this place that totally captivates me. I shed a tear (or two) every time I arrive and leave the city. I called my mother to let her know that we arrived in the city safely and she asked me how I was liking it there so far.

"It's great. The ocean, the beaches, mountains, the amazing bridges, all the crazy tall buildings, so many stores and restaurants, the on-going hustle-bustle of this place..."

"You miss it."

"Yeah, I miss it."

But I really do have a lovely life with here in Edmonton so I will soak up every moment with visits to the West coast to fill in any voids.


Falafel Platter and Chicken Shawarma at Falafel King in Vancouver

One of my fave places is Falafel King on Denman. We always make sure to stop there. Chicken Shawarma and the Falafel Plate, to die for. It's more of a grab your food and sit on a giant log in English Bay kind of dining but there is also a few tables if you prefer to eat there. The owner has been there for as long as I can remember (10+ years) and has always been friendly. When we were there he was informing a person who just parked in front that his car is too close to the curb and it will get towed. He says he sees it all the time, some people take their chances but he always let them know. Awesome.

Falafel King
1110 Denman St. location
Vancouver, BC


I haven't looked around at good middle-eastern restaurants here in Edmonton but can anyone give me some tips? I'd love to find a yummy place here. Miss my falafels already!

September 2, 2010

Travels: Sophie's Cosmic Cafe and Candy Aisle in Kitsilano, Vancouver

Brunch at Sophie's Cosmic Cafe in Vancouver

We were told that if you are in Kitsilano, you must do breakfast/brunch at Sophie's Cosmic Cafe but you better get there early unless you like to wait in line.

They weren't kidding. We were lucky, there were only 2 groups ahead of us. But shortly after we were seated, there was a line-up, out the door and down the sidewalk past the front of the building. Unbelievable.

First thing you notice about the place is the decor. Let's say it's a hoarder's paradise but organized by an obsessive-compulsive with a very friendly, warm diner feeling. It's kitschy with every knickknack, trinket, chatchki, toy, memorabilia, vintage collectables, thingamajing, (insert your word for it here).

We ordered poached eggs, french toast and pancakes which came with plenty of hashbrowns, bacon and sausage. The portions were huge. The french toast alone felt like it was an entire loaf of bread, though the huge platter-like plates make it look a lot smaller than it actually is in the above photos.

I felt I was at a place that could be shown on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. I can see why it's a local fave.

Sophie's Cosmic Cafe
2095 west 4th ave.
Vancouver, BC


Candy Aisle in Kitsilano Vancouver

Few stores down, we found the Candy Aisle. I'm not sure how we could even begin looking at any sort of candy after a huge breakfast but we managed to load up a small bag.

They have just about any candy you can imagine as well as nostalgic candy from your past. Looking for jellybeans? Check. Taffy? Check. Gobstoppers, Nerds, Pez, Sour Patch Kids or Rockets? Check, check, check, check and check. Looking for candy that is readily available from another country, they may very well have it.

I had to totally get convinced out of buying a lollipop the size of my head. I was definitely worse than my kids. My eyes were so huge taking in everything.

My teeth are still hurting from all the sugary-goodness.

Candy Aisle
2083 west 4th ave.
Vancouver, BC

September 1, 2010

Travels: Othello Train Tunnels in Hope and Vancouver's Jako Japanese Restaurant

Othello tunnels in Hope, BC

We made a stop to the Othello Train Tunnels in Hope en route to Vancouver. The tunnels are carved into the granite Mountain terrain and according to the information board, the one section is considered the most expensive mile of railway track. The tunnels were pitch black (bring a flashlight!) and were carved mostly by hand. Can you even BEGIN to imagine that? Fantastic place to stop. My kids loved it.


Once we settled into our place in Vancouver, it was time to eat. And we were hungry. What is the first thing you must eat when in Vancouver? Sushi, of course!

Eating at Jako Japanese Restaurant in Vancouver

Vancouver boasts so many different sushi restaurants that the idea of going through all the Chowhound and Urbanspoon entries made me nauseous just thinking about it. I'm glad we didn't have to pick out a place ourselves. My brother-in-law and his wife enjoy going to Jako Japanese Restaurant. It is close to where we are staying, family-friendly and the prices are unbelievably good.

There are so many restaurants in Vancouver. Even the same type of restaurant on the same block (Jako had 2 other sushi places on the same block!) which I believe lends to itself to much competition. How do they stay in business? Competitive prices, larger portions, friendly service and of course, good food.

That is what we had at Jako Japanese Restaurant. The decor isn't flashy but the family that runs the place were so great. I also loved how they had rolls named after different places in Vancouver: Kitsilano and Lonsdale rolls, etc. Too funny. Great prices for what you are getting and we would go back again.

Jako Japanese Restaurant
656 Davie Street
Vancouver, BC
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