April 2011

Vancouver at dusk - could not resist the glorious sunsetWeek 10 and I am feeling great. My energy level is high,  I am back in the gym, my low carb weight loss plan seems to be working and I am going to social events, plays, movies and restaurants. In fact the one thing everyone keeps reminding me about is that "you have had major surgery, don't overdo it."

Early morning coming back from Urban FareIt's hard to be disciplined and sensible when I feel so good but here is me, walking back from grocery shopping with a light bag in each hand. If I need more than I can carry comfortably I confess that I drive there.

The picture was taken for me by a person who was also enjoying the sea wall. It was supposed to show the two light grocery bags but I guess I did not make the concept clear so the grocery bags don't feature at all.

Callebaut chocolates and chocolate dipped strawberriesHidden, the tasting bar and lounge in Vancouver's Westin Grand Hotel celebrated its first anniversary with a big party this Easter weekend. Tucked away up a staircase that winds up from the Robson Street hotel entrance it is very convenient for dining before theatre, opera or even a hockey game. But with no frontage  on the street, you have to know it's there. Hence... Hidden.

ready to celebrate with HiddenIt is located just opposite our spectacular main library, next door to The Centre for the Performing Arts and only a couple of blocks away from the civic  theatre complex of the Queen Elizabeth and Playhouse Theatres, BC Place and the Rogers Arena.

Showing us the King Crab Fortune Garden Restaurant
1475 West Broadway
Ph: (604) 736-6868

Fortune Garden on Urbanspoon

The essence of enjoying a banquet of Chinese food is sharing it with family or friends. A group of us headed  to Fortune Garden Restaurant for a banquet which started off with two dishes of Alaskan King Crab - a delightful beginning to our meal. After showing us the uncooked crab pictured above, they whisked it away to pepare the dishes.

In the meantime we settled in to drinking tea, white wine (Lindeman's Bin 65 Chardonnay) or red wine (2008 Mouton Cadet from Bordeaux ) or beer.

roasted vegetable medleyCooking alone or cooking for one can get a bit draggy so on the fourth day of my cooking spree I enlisted two friends to come over and help.

I planned to make the moussaka recipe from the Lo-Carb Gourmet book and then roast a medley of vegetables so there was some prep to do. With waiting around for things to cook so we could get onto the next stage we had lots of time to indulge in some wine "tasting" and to snack on delicious cheese  and crackers (no crackers for  virtuous low carb me) to keep the hunger pains at bay.

Before we got started on the serious cooking the first decision was what wine to open. I decided that a 2008 Quails' Gate Gewürtztraminer would go nicely with the Cambozola, Brie, and with a nod to relatively lower fat cheese, the Dutch Cantenaar of 18% MF, that I had put on the cheese tray.

early morning on False CreekIt is 7 am and the sun is streaming in through the window of my office and glinting off the waters of False Creek. I see three kayaks out on the water but I don't yet hear the strident voices of the dragon boat "dragons" exhorting the rowers to move it. My coffee, fresh ground, and mellowed with a touch of cream, is steaming on the desk. My back feels great and I am going to finish my coffee and head out for a walk on the sea wall.

After a rough week last week, this week has shaped up to be the best so far. The evening before I enjoyed a fun supper at Fortune Garden Restaurant on West Broadway. Yesterday with friends I walked from my place in Yaletown up to the Scotiabank Cinema on Smithe and Burrard, had lunch at Joey Burrard, saw The Lincoln Lawyer, and then walked home. Other than the fact that my pace was much slower than my usual speed walking, I actually felt "normal" for the first time in seven months. 

the Viva saladJoey Burrard
820 Burrard Street
Ph: (604) 683-5639

Joey Burrard on Urbanspoon

Lunch at Joey on Burrard turned out to be a relaxing and enjoyable event before we went to see The Lincoln Lawyer at Scotiabank Cinemas.  I had not been to any of the restaurants of this chain and when my friend suggested it, I was expecting the usual casual style food and service that one gets at most chain type places.

cauliflower fried "rice"With egg muffins and low-carb pizza portions individually wrapped and sitting in my freezer, I decided it was time to do something with the cooked shrimp that had been sitting in the freezer since BBP - that's my acronym for Before Back Problem.

 Since I intended to make the Cauliflower rice from the Lo-Carb Gourmet Cookbook, I figured that making a nice sauce for the shrimp would be great.

I love the Asian style fried rice but rarely eat it - and no carb means no rice . So I decided to make the cauliflower rice more Asian by adding in lots of extras like green onion, prosciutto - well Asian style with an Italian touch - and sesame oil. First off I had to grate the cauliflower which was a snap with my Cuisinart. Luckily it was a firm head with little water to squeeze out so I did not make too much mess.

The cauliflower fried rice recipe is a favorite that both my daughter and I have made several times before  so I was not surprised that the finished dish turned out really well and tasted as good as it looked.

fresh asparagus and cambazola  crustless quicheA favorite source of mine for low carb recipes that are simple to make and quite delicious is a cookbook published in 2004 by local Vancouver chef, Karen Barnaby. She is the Executive Chef at the Fish House in Stanley Park. The book is called "The Low-Carb Gourmet."

For the first group of recipes I wanted to make dishes I could freeze and just haul out and warm. So I picked three simple recipes, two from her book,  and went ahead with minor modifications to use up what I had in my fridge..

egg and sausage breakfast muffinsThe first recipe I tried was an asparagus and cheese crustless quiche. I added brie for creaminess, cambazola for a flavour jolt and also chopped in two slices of ham.

Matt Palmer  as Will Rogers with the Ziegfeld Girls. Photo by Tim MathesonThe Will Rogers Follies 'A Life in Revue'
Book: Peter Stone  Music: Cy Coleman
Lyrics: Betty Comden and Adolf Green
Directed and choreographed by Valerie Easton
Musical Director James Bryson
A Royal City  Musical Theatre production
Massey Theatre
Apr 7 - 24, 2011

Vancouver, BC: The  Royal City Musical Theatre's production of The Will Rogers Follies is an entertainment packed spectacle with a gorgeously costumed ensemble of sparkling young singers and dancers supporting the principal cast of Matt Palmer (Will Rogers), Sara-Jeanne Hosie (Betty Blake), Tyson Coady (Clem Rogers), Laura McNaught (Ziegfeld's favorite) and Dimitrios Stephanoy (Wiley Post).

It is somewhat embarrassing for me to admit that in all the time I have lived in Vancouver I have never been out to the Massey Theatre nor seen one of the Royal City Musical Theatre productions until now. But last night I finally made it out to New Westminster to see the The Will Rogers Follies and I will definitely be watching out for their future productions.

my sort-of low carb variant of my bran muffin recipeIn response to many requests after a post about  Food, Emotions and False Creek  described my sinfully delicious Chock full-o-health bran muffins with golden raisins and apricots, I published my ad hoc recipe. Promptly got several appreciative comments. So why would one mess with success?

Well that was two years ago, and I have been enjoying these healthy bran muffins since. But after 5 months of enforced inactivity due to back pain and then recent back surgery, a strict diet regimen is needed to shed some extra pounds.

Metabolically I respond best to a low carb regimen but while I can happily do without pasta, rice, potatoes and such, every now and then I need something like my tasty, fibre rich muffins for comfort food. However, in my original recipe, each muffin had approximately 50 g of carbohydrates. My challenge was to see if  I could get it down to 25 g without losing any of the yummy taste and texture.


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