Archive for the ‘Recreation’ Category

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Beware of Snoctopus Man

Snoctopus Man says this blog is not dead. …It’s just on holiday.

Mother’s Day Lunch and Knife 4 Life

I made a late lunch for my mom on Mother’s Day.

Yup. There’s that omelet again! My mom wasn’t here when I made it last weekend, so naturally, I had to make it again. 🙂

I stuffed these with a lot of onion and mushroom. Not a bad thing, at all, but it certainly prevented them from being sealed. 🙂

And I think I’ve finally found the right pans. It’s funny, I kept trying to do it on non-stick pans, and low heat. Well, it works much better on buttered steel pans, over high heat. (Bit-a-butter-makes-it-better?) Plus, it’s way quicker! You just have to be careful not to burn it, or overcook it.

Also on the weekend, I got myself a new chef’s knife. I will have this knife for the rest of my life. Using it is an absolute pleasure.


Yes, I’m alive. And I’m well. It’s been a long time since I posted anything…. I have 6 posts categorized as drafts, so it’s not like I’ve completely ignored blogging. ^_^ But wow, it’s been a while. This post will basically be some pictures, since it’s not hard to put together. I took some casual cooking classes, a while back, in November. It was lots of fun, met some great people, and learned quite a bit. My interest in cooking, food, and the kitchen has only increased. But cooking… I’m still just starting.

On Friday night, I had the house to myself and made myself a nice meal: inside round steak on top of spinach, red pepper, asparagus, green beans, carrot, mushroom. Cooked and paired with some cheap pinot noir. 🙂

Still practicing cooking meat. I like medium-rare. As I get more confident, I’ll buy nicer cuts of meat. 🙂 And the great thing about steak? It’s super quick and easy!!

Saturday afternoon, I made a French-style omelette for myself and two homestay students. In hindsight, this was slightly overcooked and the pan I chose was not the best for the job… but at least it wasn’t browned and I know better for next time.

I’ve attempted this elusive French omelette a few times, but I don’t normally put that much effort into the rest of the plate. I had some fresh spinach from the night earlier, and I thought tomatoes and lightly fried zuchini would go well with everything. Sprinkled a bit of olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, grated cheddar and mozzarella….. Inside the omelette was sautéed onion, mushroom, red pepper, garlic, spinach, and melted cheese.

There was certainly a lot of work put into this single dish, but man did I enjoy it. Everything. The preparation, the cooking, and the eating. 🙂

Gourmet couch candy

I’ve really been enjoying these shows: Good Eats, Chef at Home (though I hate the theme music), and Posh Nosh.

Baking Powder Biscuits

Another potluck lunch at the office, and I took another easy way out. But these really are great, and ridiculously simple.

Cheddar Cheese Baking Powder Biscuits!


  • 2 c flour
  • 4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t cream of tartar
  • 2 t sugar
  • 1/2 c shortening
  • 2/3 c milk


Sift the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cut in the shortening. (Optional: Add grated cheese.) Stir in milk. Knead. Pat out to 1/2″-3/4″ thick. Cut with floured cutter. Bake at 450F (230C) for 10-15 minutes.

Makes 6-16 biscuits, depending on size. (This recipe would probably only make 6 of the large pictured biscuits).

New Digital Camera: Canon PowerShot D10

(photos below)

My beloved Canon IXY (ELPH) digital camera has finally (mostly) died, thanks to me putting it in a bag that had falsely secure liquids. (It got beer on it and now it behaves very strange and lacks some features, such as playback.) Oops. Anyway, I don’t like having to be so careful with my camera; it interferes with my lifestyle. So, a logical choice for my next camera would be… a waterproof camera? 🙂 And since I know I like Canon cameras already, a waterproof Canon would be great! Luckily, Canon released their first waterproof camera, this year.

I’ve had the Canon PowerShot D10 (youtube, dpreview, dpreview group test) for 2 weeks now and taken over 100 photos. The interface and features are a nice refinement over my old Canon camera, but there are a few notable things that irritate me. It’s a little larger and heavier than I would like for a point-and-shoot; most importantly, I can’t put it in my pocket. 🙁 It lacks HD video, which I would love and is common for digital cameras this size and price point. It seems to select a rather high ISO setting, compared to my IXY, when on Auto and in lower-light situations – I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing or not, but I have to get used to it. And, of course, making a camera waterproof puts some restrictions on the physical interface: no sliders, no knobs or dials… just buttons. But overall, I have tested it indoors and outdoors in different lighting, in the pool, the ocean, and the rain, and it seems to work pretty good. It turns on really quickly, and the battery life is fantastic (it’s just started flashing for the first time, and I’ve taken a lot of video, as well). In addition to being waterproof to 10 metres, it’s shock resistant and cold-resistant, so I will definitely be using it on the mountain, this ski season. It’s certainly not perfect, but I think I’m going to keep it. 🙂

Here are a selection of photos taken with it:

Kitchenware and Shopping!

Last Friday, I had no plans and decided to do a little shopping at Pacific Centre before leaving downtown Vancouver. I wasn’t really looking for anything special, just looking to see if I could find any sales or see anything I “simply must have.” (I was bored and didn’t feel like going home quite yet.) When I entered Sears, I headed straight to the men’s clothing section, on the bottom floor. Lots of sales, so I bought a few shirts. And when I asked the cashier if she knew when the jeans would be on sale, she told me she just took the sign down – they’re on sale, right now! Alright then! Picked up a couple pairs of jeans for 40% off, as well! Sweet. Nothing like clothes that fit and are on sale. 🙂

Next stop: Kitchenware, top floor

I’ve been looking at cookware and knives, recently, so they’re a bit of a personal weakness.
There was a sales person setting up signs for a sale starting Saturday: 50% off all cookware sets. Well! I really had to look around, didn’t I!? Most sets are originally $400-800, so 50% is $200-400. Not bad, not bad. But I found an 8pc Kenmore Elite set that I was really impressed with. There were only 2 boxes left, and the price was $160. If this set was also 50% off, I was going to pay the $80 and walk out of there with it that night. I asked a sales associate, and he said it was already at a clearance price, but brought it to the cashier to check – it didn’t register a price when it was scanned and he said she was “too chicken” to ring it through at 50% without a manager’s approval. Okay, alright. No biggie, I don’t need a pot set, right now. I put it back, but I was still thinking about it at the $160.

Knives and knife sets were also 20% off and lots of other things were on sale, so I picked up a great little Lagostina chef’s pan (originally $65) for $20, and a couple of cheap-ish knives: a Roscan 8″ Chef Knife and a Henckel Santoku. I had honestly bought quite enough that day and was very happy with my purchases. But when I got home, I checked my receipts and I had only received a discount for one of the knives. I had to go back… and when I did, I could check on the pot set again. 🙂

The next day, after meeting friends for dimsum (which I totally thought was Sunday!! Sorry…), I went back to Sears to check on those pots and get a few dollars back on my knives. As I entered, I was given a Scratch-N-Save card: 10-50% off whatever I buy, but I have to scratch it at the cashier. Obviously, odds are pretty high for the 10% and ridiculously low for 50%… but this applied to all regular and sale-priced items. Anyway, everyone just assumes they have a 10%, so whatever they get is an at an additional 10% discount. I wasn’t planning on buying anything, unless those pots were 50%…. That’s the first thing I checked. Nope. The $160 price tag was already a clearance price – they’re cancelling this line for some reason, and there was only 2 boxes left there. Not surprised in the least ($160 was still a really good deal), I took my receipt to get the rebate on the knives. The cashier took both knives back and applied my 10% scratch-n-save. Cool. I guess I was done. But I had the car… I almost felt obliged to get something, or at least give another look. So I did. And I decided on a $30 salad spinner (I hated the salad spinner we used at home) and took it to the till.

When it was my turn, I was offered another scratch-n-save and told to “pick a lucky one.” So I selected one from the fan of cards the cashier had made for me and pulled my Visa card out as she scratched it. No, wait…. is that… 50%?! WHAT?! It was funny, everybody around me got really excited asking me to buy their items… there aren’t many of these. They announce this shit over the PA. Of course, it’s an absolute WASTE on a $30 salad spinner… so I asked, “Um… Can I go grab something else…?” She replied, “Well, we’re not supposed to let you do that, but if you know what it is and it’s nearby…. I guess so.” I quickly hopped over and grabbed the $160 pot set and brought it back, totally elated. Fate? I think so. I felt so good I made a small donation to the boys and girls club. Hah. Am I really that shallow?

Now here’s the question you’re thinking: Steve, why didn’t you get an $800 set that was on sale for $400, for $200? You know, I had a tiny sense of regret shortly after I bought them, but I brushed that off quickly. Think of all the things that came together for me to get the pot set I wanted for the price I wanted. I didn’t get full discount on my knives, had to come back. I was late for meeting my friends for dim sum (was delicious), so I borrowed my mom’s car. The people I let ahead of me in the line. The time I took. The visitor parking at my friend’s being full and making me decide to leave early – and maybe having time to drop by Pacific Centre. The fact that I had the car encouraging me to buy the salad spinner. The clerk fanning out a selection of discount cards, and me picking the right one. Seriously amazing. True, I didn’t save HUGE, but the way everything fell together … I still get giddy thinking about it. Those pots would not let me leave without them! 😀 So that day, I walked out with a 8pc pot set and a salad spinner, made a small donation, and paid tax for barely over $100!

That was Saturday. I kept telling my mom if she needed anything, she should at least go look. So she did. Sunday. My mom picked up the same Lagostina chef’s pan I had (75% off). I tagged along, figuring my shopping was long done. It wasn’t. *sigh* I ended up buying a cutting board and 2 new pillows (half price). Scratch-and-save discounts on these were 15%, because the store was dead and the cashier was younger and scratched a couple herself on my behalf. 🙂

Next up on the to-buy list is a replacement digital camera (mine’s totally busted), and an HD TV. If you see any deals, let me know. 🙂

Hi. My name is Steve. I’m a sucker for sales.

(I’ve since used the sauté pan from the set, and I absolutely love it.)

Dinner: Sautéed Salmon

Sauteed Salmon and Asparagus

Eager to use some new kitchenware I bought over the weekend (a post in itself, perhaps), I made dinner last night. Along with the salmon, I stir-fried veggies & rice and attempted a simple white sauce using a white wine reduction. All things considered, it went pretty well. The biggest problem was that the salmon was too dry by the time we ate: I shouldn’t have fully cooked it, because it became a bit overcooked while staying “warm” in the oven waiting for me to finish the rest. I used a single sauté pan because I wanted the flavours of everything in the reduction/sauce – so I should have planned better. I also think I used a bit too much oil. I had never tried making a white sauce or a reduction before, but they turned out quite decent. The red onions used as garnish on top of the salmon were also sautéed in a little white wine, making them sweet. The sauce ended up compensating for the dry salmon. I had a decent lunch today. And it was pretty low carb, too! 😀

I like my new pots. And knives. Cooking’s fun. 🙂

Monthly Expenses?

I try to make all my purchases on credit card. This lets me easily review all my expenses each month, or at any time using online banking. (wooh, technology). So for my last statement, I downloaded it as a spreadsheet, did some grouping, and made a chart. I had to pull in some data from my debit card statement, as well, which wasn’t so accommodating (no CSV download), but I managed.

Monthly expenses: mid-April - mid-May 2009

Monthly expenses: mid-April - mid-May 2009

The three categories at the top with a bold line around them are pretty static and not going to change much in the immediate future: rent, bus, and phone. The three categories at the bottom with grey outlines were exceptional and help make this month a more expensive one: a trip to whistler (all expenses, including eating out, hotel, etc), some clothes (which I don’t buy often), and a new computer. These make up more than half of my month’s expenses. The rest of it is the interesting stuff. Eating out and liquor account for the greatest remaining expenses…. and eating out includes drinking out, whereas liquor is basically for drinking in – so already I could drastically reduce my expenses by drinking in more and drinking out less, right? 😀 (I don’t see drinking out decreasing drastically, any time soon, however….)

Food is miscellaneous groceries I’ve bought, and is very small because I live at home and don’t generally buy groceries. For that same reason, my rent should actually be half of what it is, but I plan on paying at least double, for the time being. I find it funny that coffee (when I buy a coffee and or any muffin or baked good) has its own slice of the pie – but not unexpected. Because I don’t have a car, gas is ridiculously small, but I like to replace what I use when I borrow my mom’s car.

For me, it will be interesting to see what changes next month. 🙂 And who knows, at this rate, that might be the next time I blog! haha. ^_^;;

Oh, and I’ll be going to EAT!Vancouver, this weekend. I might even attend multiple days. I went last year and enjoyed it. It’s a barrage of samples and people trying to sell you stuff… and it’s where I tried and bought my RADA cutlery, which I like quite a bit. Thinking I might get a tomato knife or something. It’s only $12. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, give me a shout. 😉

Tuna Teasers

We have a potluck lunch in the office, tomorrow, so I did something I never do: bake. 😮 I know, I know. Anyway, I decided on these things called Tuna Teasers – I remember enjoying when my mom had made them. Then I looked at the recipe. My god, was it simple! And quick! It’s from a recipe book called Fast and Fantastic, so I guess it holds true, in this case. 🙂 Here’s the recipe:

Tuna Teasers


  • 1 c flour (I used whole wheat flour)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp onion salt (I substituted with onion flakes)
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1 can flaked tuna fish, drained
  • 1 c shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp finely minced green pepper (I substituted with green onion)


Preheat oven to 450F (230C). Combine first 5 ingredients. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add milk and stir until blended. Add last 3 ingredients. Mix well. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 36 small puffs. About 15 medium sized.

Work and Stuff

I meant to go snowboarding at Cypress today, but I went to sleep at 4am (thanks to the time change and my laptop), so I’ll take a lazy Sunday to provide a few much needed updates. (If you’re reading this and also thinking about squeezing a little out of the remaining ski season, hit me up and lets see if we can go together!)


At the beginning of April, I will be returning to the government office I worked at previously, but this time as a full-fledged civil servant! Exciting, I know. 🙂 I worked there previously as a casual employee, and the person I primarily worked with will be going on maternity leave, so I’ll be filling her shoes while she’s gone. The work is not exactly what I’d like to be doing, but I’m hoping I can work on personal projects and keep my mind tuned to my other interests. (However, I know I have trouble doing this, as regardless of the job, I like to relax afterward.) This is also my proverbial foot-in-the-door, so I’ll definitely be keeping a lookout for other job postings of potential interest. Right now, the security and benefits that come with a government job are quite welcome.

Additionally, over the last few weeks, I’ve been working as an ESL tutor, and I will continue to do so until I start the new job. Actually, I really enjoy tutoring! It’s fun working with different people all the time. And if I decide to teach English abroad at some point (a very acceptable means of travel) this is great experience. It’s good to know I might actually enjoy the work, as well. It’s just not a job that can sustain much of a life, in Vancouver, at the moment. 🙂