Bread substitute 

As I prepare my lunch for work today I encounter an unexpected engineering problem. I have one piece of bread. In the fridge is a plethora of deli meats, ham, roast beef, turkey, but only a single slice of bread to be found. My sandwich making comes to a complete halt as I consider this issue.

Do I place the meat back in the fridge and settle for a pack of ramen? Do I risk being late and cooking up some frozen treat? Or do I push on and persevere in sandwich making? But how?

  
My breakfast provides the answer. As I am mixing up a batch of chocolate chip pancake batter the shape and consistency, even the very ingredients bare a striking resemblance to bread. Could I substitute the pancake as bread? 

How out of the box, how novel, what a solution! Adding a tad more mix, I made a few extra flapjacks and engaged myself in the effort.

  
Like bread I placed a pancake on the plate, so far, it’s still a comfortable everyday act. With extreme care I place a few thin slices of ham on the pancake…there does not appear to be any explosive or adverse reaction..gently I position another pancake over the construct and lower it slowly into place…

It held! This avant guard new age construction seems to pass inspection and safety standards. Bolder now, I place EVEN MORE ham on top and with steady hand, another pancake on top. 

  
Not wanting to risk the collapse of this edifice I drive two wooden pillars, just off centre of each other, through the levels of flour and pork products and announce to the site foreman its completion. With a flick of her tail the foreman signals her approval and jumps off the counter in search of another project, while I pack this novel creation up for its journey to work, where it can be admired and envied by my coworkers as they munch away on their conservative bread encased sandwiches and dream of better meals.

UPDATE: don’t have to do that again, bagged me some bread

  

Quest for the dragon fruit treasure

I had heard tales of the dragon over the last few years, it had made an appearance in the area recently in the vegetable fields of the urban grocers and fruit patches of Asian markets. I had caught glimpses myself even, of this thorny flamboyant creature while plucking bananas from a bin, but had never pursued it, feeling I had not earned enough experience to quest after it.


Recently I felt I was prepared for this quest and equipped myself for the adventure. A dragon fruit had taken up residence close by in the cool white cave by were I slept. So arming myself with my French short sword I followed the prey into its refrigerated den.

With unexpected suddenness I glimpsed it’s red and green scaled hide. It sat before me, not cowering in a dark corner but dead center, the light reflecting off its flaming skin in crimson and vermilion hues. Reaching forth I grasped it firmly and wrestled it manfully from the recesses of its domain. I managed to hold it long enough to grasp my sword and with a mighty thrust I clove it asunder, and split its thick blood red skin and drove through its flesh, smiting it into two halves with that single blow.


The treasure of the dragon fruit was mine for the taking as it glistened there like gelatinous ivory studded with ebony flecks. Grasping a small shovel I had thoughtfully included in my pack, I began to shovel the sought after riches into my open maw and finally, after years, tasted the very flesh of a dragon fruit.


I was mildly disappointed to find that this beast had wasted most of its exoticism on its flamboyant colour and shape, leaving little for flavour. Unexpectedly subtle like a watermelon crossed with a kiwi it was unexpectedly mild mannered compared to its chaotic prismatic exterior. Like finding out Lady Gaga’s favorite pastime is golf. This dragon was blistering bluster over blandish bite.


Not one to feel defeat after such a monumental achievement, I sweetened my victory with a sprinkle of sugar, and with that slight embellishment was able to share my epic to its full potential with you today.

Alchemy in a pan. 

One of the things I enjoy about writing this blog, is the messes it’s to vary my creations to have something to expand the content. As a result, I have started mixing things together that I never have before. While some are timid, others are bold out of box concepts with no preconceived notion of the results.

Due to this experimentation to turn leaden food to golden meals I have made some mistakes such as peanut butter and maple, but also remarkable discoveries. Orange mango mint being one. And last nights bacon and mushroom was another.

I had two lowly mushrooms left in the fridge that caught my eye as I was reaching for the bacon, and with that classic phrase that precedes every discovery or personal disaster in history “why not” I proceeded to travel that narrow trecherous path that can lead to greatness,  or dismal failure.

  
As I tossed the bacon into the pan I adder the fine slices of purchased fungus to the heat. As the bacon and mushrooms sweltered together in the splattering juices they changed. The bacon flavour, always so distinct and powerful imbued but did not overpower the mushrooms, and to my delight, the mushrooms were able to lightly flavour the bacon with a hint of their distinction, together the two became something new. Pan frying the bread in the remaining mushroom infused bacon grease I enjoyed a delightful new sandwich. While not the gold of an alchemist, it was far from a disaster of culinary chemistry. 

  

Pragmatic cooking

so I purchased some nice eye of round stake, which for some inexplicable reason, was cheaper then stewing beef, and a bottle of red wine to make my amazing melt in your mouth sautéed beef. Over the next two days I daydreamed about this succulent dish, the way it tangs on your tongue before you bite down on the softest beef you have ever had. The juices roll  together over the palet  like liquid velvet, crimson waves of velvet, bite after bite. It is a joy to make and consume. It just required the time to make it.

five days of non stop activity later I came home to see the slow cooker out. Tired of waiting, my wife, ever the pragmatist, Has drank the wine and made a stew.

  
She has made her own version of the dish. Cubeing the beef and adding carrots potatoes and spice, she doused the mix in water and drank the bottle of wine while her stew cooked.

While not my velvet waves of crimson flavour, it is still a tender beef dish with hearty flavour and involved no work on my part, so being the reasonable and sensible husband I am, I shall eat it, and not…shall we say…wine. 

Birthplace of the BELTCH

In my youth I traveled to an exotic land nestled high among the peaks of snow covered mountains. A land of chalets, and alpine construction of epic scale, where bears roamed the streets and cyclists rode down mountain trails that would worry a bighorn sheep.

In this magical land of tourists, restaurants and trendy bars, weekend Snowboarders, and holiday skiers, we the invisible worked. Whistler BC held our secret places where tourists never ventured. The nude beach on Lost Lake and the underground pizza shop, but dearest to my heart was the tiny little food place locals called the Third World Deli.

Nestled behind a hedge of evergreens across from the husky gas station was a yellowing sunburn peal paint entrance to a temple of early morning laborers. At 6am you could make your way in, past the black and white and faded Polaroids of naked pioneers to the food transfer. Grab a scrap of paper from the pile of snippets that sat on the edge of the counter. Scribble your order from the chalk board menu and pass it to the busy cook. Find your seat and be served the coffee or beverage of your choice by another member of this secret culinary clergy as you heard the orders chanted out.

“Pigs in a blanket sunny side up burned side down”

“Frog toast”

“Who’s on a diet and ordered half an egg”

As your insult rolled off the cook’s tongue like a fiery sermon, your meal appeared on the counter and you went down the single row of tables to pick it up like being called to communion.

“Holy fuck! Who’s the piggy that orders French toast and a Beltch?”

My breakfast was up. And as a growing boy fast approaching 200 lbs of muscle I would get a quizzical glance from the sarcastic cook, who would look at the overloaded plates then at my 28inch waist and say ” what are you doing with my food?” After the 4th or 5th time the joke was getting stale, and being a conscientious cook, he threw it out.

The French toast was sweet. 2 slices of batter soaked bread, with syrup and powdered sugar was the perfect desert to the meal I really came for.


The Beltch. A monstrosity of sandwich indecision. Ever been unsure of what you want to eat? A fried egg sandwich? A BLT? A grilled cheese? A ham and cheese? This took care of that decision by placing them all together on a single plate between two slices of fresh bread.

BELTCH Bacon Egg Lettuce Tomato Cheese Ham sandwich. A recipe I stole from the master monks of this culinary abbey of local cuisine and made it my own. Not satisfied with the heart wrenching mix of saturated fats, I have expanded on the method to create a truly dangerous meal.


First the bacon, fried up in a pan to golden edged perfection, then the bread is dropped into the still hot pan to suck up the grease and crisp. A baptism of glorious flavour rather then the purgatory of a toaster’s red burning coils. Once done, the pan is now ready for the eggs, fried hard in the remaining bacon fat left behind by the seared bread. A few leaves of lettuce, (which I currently lack) like angelic wings enfolding the slices of tomato in its embrace. A layer of cheese, cheddar being preferred, as a bright halo over this divinity, that is finally covered in a shroud of thinly sliced ham as translucent as stained glass, before putting the second piece of pan fried bread as capstone, on this near holy relic.


As you bite into this mass of goodness, time slows and each flavour roles across your taste buds in a parade of taste. One after another like waves against the beach, each zest, gusto and seasoning announces itself with a roar and then, hissing, fades back into the mix as you chew each bite. Your arteries rebel, your heart constricts, your kidneys shiver and your stomach boils, but it’s worth it. If you can survive this banquet of singular gluttony, you will have approached the pearly gates of heaven, close enough to taste rapture but able to turn back to mundanities until you are ready to gather the ingredients of this text again and bind them together into this holy consumable book of utopian enchantment, the BELTCH.

St. Paddy’s Day at the Ale House

Tonight after work I will likely drop by my regular watering hole, the Ale House. In a fit of Celtic fever, I shall river dance the short distance from office to bar, prancing like a epileptic pony, leaping like a helium filled gazelle , free from my bondage,  the spirit of Eire, that which seers the burning love of politics into my soul, that which infuses the wordsmith within with gregarious eloquence and roguish humor, will carry me to gather with my clansmen, both real and imagined and celebrate the bragish deed of St. Patrick. St. Patrick who chased the proverbial snakes from my ancestral home. A home that was bloodily claimed by a distant ancestor as his own when he chopped his hand from his body, and cast it on the shore to win a kingdom, by cheating. As first to lay his hand on the land, Neal, lay claim to the Emerald Isle, became its king, and became the only king in history, who’s most recognized portrait is the bloody red cast off extremity he did not possess during his entire reign.

Never say we Irish don’t have a sense of satire.

To the Ale House this highwayman shall ride.

  
With a fine selection of beers and a price to match my income, it’s a great place to meet with friends for a few drinks and snacks. I have never been disappointed with the food. As long as you are not setting your expectations to high, it’s got very good pub fare, and in 3 plus years, I have never had an issue with the food. Personal favourite? The poutine, fries, gravy and cheese curds in a lasagna boat. No added items, no fancy box, just a good dish with crisp fries to satisfy my Irish heritage, and gravy and curds to complement my bilingual life. 

  
Tonight I will likely drop by for one of my favourite beers, sadly it will not be a Wellington dark, as it does not turn a reasonable shade of green, but perhaps a 50 or the like ale that can be infused with dye and become the shamrock shake of the adult world that one day a year we celebrate my heritage. 

If you be looking for a dark quiet pub to chat with your mates, with the exception of major alcohol fuelled holidays, this here’s the place. If you like your meal or beverage served by an auburn haired girl( they all seem to use the same hair dye) in a short kilt, or for that matter a man in a kilt, this is the place.If you want something a bit brighter, or a party atmosphere, drop by tonight, because tonight is one of the few times this place will be overflowing with happy people who just want a good time.

Fast Food Face Off 

Ever wonder where you should grab your less than healthy fill you up?

At great risk to my health and well being I have explored this mystery on your behalf. From Fast Eddies at noon to McDonald’s at 7pm I have twice today ordered the same meal, but have not consumed the same. There is a difference between the billion burgers McDonald’s has served and the Millions of Fast Eddies burgers. Here, today, we examine those differences in depth.

  
First the order. Both were delayed for some reason and my fast food was more cruising speed then fast. Each presented me a bag of colourful self promotion. Fast eddies with a comical fry cook from every beach blanket bingo movie of the 60s expressing his delight at my patronage. With no seating beyond the scarred picnic table at the street I took these home to examine.

McDonald’s provided their fare in a colourful blast of letters, that were meaningless in my haste to consume the food. They provided a wide selection of seating opportunities, from a raised bar like block of imitation stone, to round stools of harsh vermilion colour around bland off white tables that came in your choice of semi clean or condiment laced. I chose a semi clean table next to a dead body.( he may have only been sleeping, but I didn’t want to look to close) and opened my fried meat selection. To my absolute delight, both McDonald’s and Fast eddies had wrapped my meal as if presenting me with a birthday gift of hasty selection, wrapped in a moving car…by the driver.


 Plain white paper with a moderate design was the conservative approach of Fast Eddie, while McDonald’s continues to behave in a clownish manner with a bright exciting wrapping paper of processed cheese colour as if to say here is a product that contains cheese, and should only be wrapped around said cheese laden items.

Unwrapping my little gifts my first impression is the bun.


 The waxy finish to the McDonald bun is a bit off putting. A little too slick, more bling then bun. While the fast eddies was more realistic, more home baked looking. Unfortunately that is where Fast Eddie’s home cooked ends. The beef is so processed I think the cow has wheels rather then legs it had such a mechanized tasted. The standard slice of processed cheese Of equal consistency between both burgers, reminding me of those wild teen years when Jimmy Yeomen tossed a buttered piece of process chess at the ceiling of our high school cafeteria and it stuck. That cheese was still there 5 years later at our graduation, smaller, darker and edged in mold, but still recognizable as a slice of that cheese coloured edible oil product inhabiting bag lunches to this day.


 The single pickle slice that sat bravely on each burger was the selling feature. Eddie’s was a pickle, crisp, pickled, tasty. While the McDonald pickle could have been replaced with a sour gummie worm to the same effect. Chewy, sour and limp, it’s no wonder MacDonald’s sneaks a dribble of onions on the pickle to at least provide a slight crunch to the bite. Katsup and mustard abound on both, but there seems to be more bite in the Fast eddies condiment selection, perhaps by choice, perhaps simply from being on the shelf a little too long.


 Out of the two, the beef patty in the McDonald’s burger was juicer and more beef flavoured, but oddly the McDonald’s burger on the whole was much drier and had me craving a drink to wash the last two bites down that seemed to swell and stick in my mouth.

On the whole, I would think the Fast Eddies burger would win by a hair, ( no there was no hair in either product) but for the odd faint smell of body odor on the outer bag. Each has its pro’s and con’s and now thanks to my diligence, not to mention sacrifice, you can chose wisely of the options that avail you

In either case I was not hungry for a few hours after each meal, and in the end, that’s all that really matters to a pennyless foodie.

Complication of a classic

“Please sir, may I have some more?” And with this one classic line a breakfast staple is catapulted into fame. The simple gruel, the rolled oats, the porridge that nurished generations of urchins and debutants. Ship captains and galley slaves, all took part in this meal to one consistency or another. Today we enjoy that same classic fare, enhanced and yet simplified. Like an illuminated text of Charles Dickens, as offered by Reader’s Digest.

  
Today we can buy our rolled oats in box, bag, or my favourite, little bags in a box. No longer just the plain fare of yesteryear, now available in a plethora of tasty concoctions, like Apple Cinnamon or maple and brown sugar, or gummy dinosaur. Rigidly set prepackaged portion sized paper sacks of precisely measured quantities with step by step instructions on the preparation and serving of gruel.

  
But I am not a galley slave, nor urchin, I can rise up against this oppressive printed task master and with a Twist of Oliver, say. “No sir, I will have more!”

I will have two of your pitiful teabag sizes packs of porridge, I may even have two different flavours. Perhaps today I feel like apple cinnamon peaches and cream porridge. Perhaps today I will ignore your boiling water instructions and use the microwave to heat my water soaked oats to the consistency I like.

Perhaps today I will glorify your offered sugary gruel with peaches, and strawberries, perhaps honey or in a fit of madness add my own gummy worms.(the last one is unlikely as the gummy Dino flavour could only appeal to children under 10 who would pour packets of sugar directly into their mouths given the chance.)

  
This morning I will have the breakfast that an ancient mariner could only dream of. A splash of milk over my fruit laden porridge as a final jab at the now torn and sodden instructions resting in my recycle bin and I sit at my table. A king on his throne, a rebel with a spoon, a successful Oliver Twist of the 21st century, and I consume the annuals of history with fruit filled abandon.

The Wonder of Zucchini

I found half a zucchini in the fridge and boy am I excited. This under-appreciated vegetable is a wonder. A gift to the culinary arts with it’s almost magical ability to absorb and enhance the flavor of almost any meal. Simply by slicing or dicing this green tubular object and introducing it to your frying pan you change the colour and texture of your dinner, without losing the flavor. It picks up the taste of what ever is around it like a chameleon changes it’s colour. In a instant a boring dish contains a surprise. Flashes of cool fall juiciness leap like cool little firecrackers in your mouth adding just the right amount of je ne say quoi to je suis.

  
Chopping up the last two poultry wieners I know that the zucchini will make even those unappetizing meat sticks into a delight, I fry the paired items up in a pan with salt pepper and spill a pinch of Garlic into the pan. As they sizzle away I crack open the hard shells of a few eggs and invite them into party. Moments later all three are happily simmering together in the pan ready to be consumed.

  
But wait, this is just a meal. A mess of food prepared simply to provide energy to the hungry body. The Zucchini deserves more. It deserves to be immortalized for it’s sacrifice to sweeten the offensive wieners. I reach for my secret ingredient. The rare black sesame seeds. Be it a stir fry, a ham or any other baked or fried meal, a pinch or two of these little beads can turn a meal into art.

  
As every hero of Irish legend, who either fails in the attempt or dies succeeding, the Zucchini, modest cousin to the flashy pumpkin, silent brother to the odorous squash preforms it’s task without fanfare or holiday tradition, but simply because the task is there, and it meets it’s destiny proudly and succeeds.

  
Having now adorned the zucchini in it black jewellery I place it on the plate to be sacrificed to my hunger, a fitting end for this modest hero of taste.