Lee's Donuts

Oh Lee's. How I love thee. Located in the heart of the Granville Island Public Market, Lee's is the finest donut shop in all of the Lower Mainland. Forget Tim Horton's slightly stale and sugary dough, forget Krispy Kreme's disgustingly syrupy, dough-heavy fried creations. Lee's donuts are light and almost fluffy. Not too sweet but sweet enough, I always get half a dozen of their powdered, cinnamon and oh yes, double chocolate ones. I never fail to stop by Lee's every time I'm on Granville Island. We had a section lunch at the terribly overrated Bridge's one week and I snuck away to procure a dozen for our office and we all agreed that I should've picked up 2 dozen instead. D'oh!


Spring Dinner

I've never had cooked radish before, so when I saw this braised radish recipe I had to go out and grab a few bunches of those cute little red radishes that have been popping up at Kin's Farm Market lately. I didn't have time to stop by a charcuterie, so I substituted some fatty side of pork and added spinach to the dish.

I also whipped up a salad, using the blood oranges I bought on a whim a few days ago. Generic organic herb salad mix (picking out the massive quantities of dill that were in there), blood orange slices, toasted pine nuts, some mild goat cheese and a vinaigrette made with white balsamic vinegar, blood orange juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.


Asparagus & Egg

Tonight's light dinner: roast spring asparagus and egg. I've seen versions of this dish everywhere lately and I love asparagus, so this was a no brainer. Snap off the tough ends of asparagus, drizzle in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for about 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, my egg poaching skills aren't up to snuff yet, so I just fried an egg. Toss the roasted asparagus in some breadcrumbs, slide the egg on top with some mozzarella shavings (next time I'll probably get some asiago), some dill and paprika and a bowl of roasted red pepper soup on the side. I'll try my hand at poaching again with eggs florentine sometime, but tonight's minimum fuss dinner just tides me over the grief of Jesse L. Martin's departure from L&O last night. Sigh.


Making it a Habit

A few months ago, I started making a concerted effort to regularly eat breakfast. I often claim I'm not a morning person, but really what I need is to spend a bit of time by myself in the morning. Weekends for me, mean the luxury of a greasy diner breakfast, a newspaper and/or blog feeds and caffeine. Now with discipline and a little effort, eating a real breakfast everyday is more of a habit. It also means I'm less of a crankypants at work.

I try to prep for mornings the night before. Cut up some bowls of fruit to set aside in the fridge, slice up bread, etc.

Now a typical weekday breakfast consists, at a minimum, of a bowl of yogurt (something which I've forced myself to start consuming) with some combination of bran, Weetabix and fruit, and toast. If I really get it together there's an egg over easy somewhere too. I'm also aiming to get up even earlier to make coffee instead of spending a weekly fortune to grab one from the damningly convenient Starbucks (oh why can't you be a JJ Bean?) located right where I transfer buses.


Chicken on Rye

The half of the chicken from Pizza Night left over, I turned into a Yogurt & Dill Chicken Salad for sandwiches at work and for general snacking. I finally finished the last of the salad this morning, making myself a sandwich with some delicious extra dark rye bread. The chewy, grainy bread's deep flavor paired well with the dill in the salad; bonus for me since I'll take any opportunity to eat a slice of rye.


Not Food

I used to really love cereal. But not this much. Shouldn't I be clipping UPC's off boxes for this stuff? This could be a Fear Factor challenge--wear any of these outfits for a day and try to not get beat up. By 8 year olds.

The fact that these are also not food barely deters me from immediate consumption. Cuteness overload, they look like something straight out of Yoshi's Story

Hungry? When the pitiful whine of your pansy-ass empty stomach can only be silenced by a loud Carb-BOOM! In Vanilla-Orange, no less. Follow that with a Double Latte chaser, and you're set. What's that you say? You still have room for a cheeseburger in a can? Ok, but it's your funeral, buddy.


Easy Pasta on a Thursday Night

Pasta is probably the easiest thing to make and take to the office as lunch. I hastily put together a dinner and lunch for tomorrow from scrounging around my fridge. Pizza night yielded some leftover ingredients I had to get rid of: some chopped tomatos and mushrooms. I also had a random pack of turkey sausage, which I broke up into ground meat. I played it by ear and came up with rotini with turkey sausage, mushroom, tomato, basil, sun-dried tomato and capers.


Pizza Night

I'm still in the midst of unpacking and unsorting my place after the last move, and my sister was nice enough to suffer through collaborating on a pizza dinner while a randomly giant futon frame sat right in the middle of my kitchen/living room/workspace, awaiting removal.

We had come up with the idea of making an Indian Butter Chicken Pizza and an Okonomiyaki Pizza some time ago during a random conversation. So we used the thin crust recipe from The Kitchn and experimented with toppings.

Butter Chicken Pizza

1 portion the thin crust dough, rolled out to 10" diameter
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup sauteed onions
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup diced yellow and red bell peppers
1 large chopped roma tomato
1 cup President's Choice Indian Butter Chicken Sauce
2 tsps minced garlic

I highly recommend ditching the President's Choice brand sauce in favor of using Sharwood's Butter Chicken sauce, if you are to use a jar sauce to save time. Partially, the reason I only came up with the Butter Chicken Pizza idea was that I had this leftover sauce in my fridge that needed to be used up. The PC brand just doesn't do it--it smells terrific out of the jar, but somehow tastes completely watered down. I would also veto Patak's brand butter chicken sauce if you're looking for something closer to an authentic South Asian flavor.

Okonomiyaki Pizza

2 cups shredded, sauteed cabbage
1 cup chopped baby cuttlefish
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup diced red peppers
1 cup Okonomiyaki sauce

For garnish:
1/2 cup shredded dried nori
2 tsps dried bonito flakes
2 tsps chopped green onion
a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds
a generous drizzle of Kewpie mayonnaise

Didn't have any okonomiyaki sauce on hand, so we raided my fridge and mixed tonkatsu sauce, Worchestershire sauce and ketchup to make a reasonably tasty approximation of it. I'm sure numerous variations of okonomiyaki pizza can be made--minced pork, scrambled egg, soba noodles, mashed potato, octopus, shrimp, dried anchovies can all be added or substituted. The hard part is fitting everything in--our okonomiyaki pizza was more of a mountain, as we observed the cuttlefish and mushrooms slowly cascade downwards in the oven! Oh yeah, and it tasted really really good.


This Week's Non-Food Roundup

Wishing your favorite breakfast food could be more phallic? Wish no more!

Kraft bagel tubes! All those wasted hours in my lifetime spent arduously spreading cream cheese--regained! If only all my foodstuffs could come in tube form; then my life would be complete! It truly is a $100 million idea!

Tired of having your food cooked via such primitive methods as gas ovens, cast iron grills and spits? We're living in the 21st century, right? Why the fuck am I still seasoning pans and scrubbing pots? Why isn't everything made of silicone and microwaveable already? And where is my goddamn robot butler?!?

Stouffers microwaveable "My Favorite Frozen Panini"s will make you feel like the modern (wo)man that you are! Everything should be nukeable--everything should be disposable. All enriched white flour bread should magically defy soggification in the microwave and yet retain its surface integrity in spite of its close proximity to the humidity of melting oil-based "cheese".

The future is NOW (and by "now" I mean, 2 years ago): Instant hot lattes in a can. Wolfgang Puck, get the fuck out of my head and into my car! Surviving consumers don't dislike it!


Comfort Food

Whenever I got sick as a child, I remember being fed macaroni in vegetable broth, with assorted protein and veggie combinations. It was usually frozen peas and strips of ham, and/or an egg.

To this day I can't bear to eat macaroni in any form.

But ever since I was old enough to cook for myself, I quickly discovered a new comfort dish to tide me over any illness--udon in soup.

Start off with a tablespoon of miso in a small pot of boiling water to make the miso soup base, add a packet of udon noodles, small cubes of tofu, enoki mushrooms, dried seaweed, and a sprinkling of furikake or S&B shichimi for a bit of kick. It may not look like a feast, but when I'm a grody wreck from too many long days and late nights or the muthafuckin' flu, it's a godsend to chow down on something that can be cooked in 15 minutes.



The sickies suck.

The last few weeks I was struck with the killer death flu that was going around, feeling like a soppy puddle of muck, subsisting mostly on vitamins, steamed vegetables, eggs and medication whenever I came down from my hazy fever long enough to feed myself.

I also had a raging cough and sore throat, which I soothed with an old family recipe--a hot brew made from sweet potato and ginger, with rock sugar added for sweetness.

This drink is simple enough for even someone in a feverish, drippy delirium to make.

- 1 large (or 2 small sweet potatos or yams--I like the ones with really orange flesh), washed and cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
- 1 medium sized piece of ginger root (more or less, depending on your taste), cut into a few segments
- a piece of rock sugar (if it's a big piece, feel free to smash it into smaller chunks)

So, just throw all of these in a small pot of boiling water (4 cups or more) and simmer for an hour. This sweet, gingery drink can also be spiced with a stick of cinnamon, which helps digestion.

I'm not a fan of ginger in general, but I resort to this brew because it always manages to relieve my sore throat and help ease my coughing. Ginger in folk medicine is used to treat nausea and colds, has been shown to relieve general pain and is antibacterial. Sweet potato has vitamin C, B6 and betacarotene (the orange-fleshed ones have more of the latter) and helps stabilize blood sugar.

You can also sweeten the drink with honey, but I always remembered my grandma using rock sugar. Rock sugar has a milder sweetness than regular white sugar. Both honey and rock sugar help soothe the throat.

I made the mistake of initially drinking honey lemon tea when I got sick and I ended up irritating my throat more every time I had more citrus. I'm not sure what the science is behind it, but I remember being told by my Chinese family members to avoid anything citrus when you have throat issues, and they were right. Anyone know why this is?