Monday, February 28, 2011

lucy's eastside diner: open every hour of every day

lucy's eastside diner.

a newish 24-hour diner on main street and 11th. mix of moderately-priced diner & trendy, youthful main street culture. on the walls hang vegan versions of deer antlers - bike handles.

i've eaten here twice. both times because i was hungry & in the area after normal places close. it was bright & cheerful inside, i like the orange tables & the light turquoise walls. the booths at the back are nice & cozy for 2 people, but really tight to fit more than that. other than those 3 miniature booths at the back and a good amount of bar seating, there are a couple larger booths at the front. i haven't been during peak times yet, but i can imagine seating would be tight. i don't think i'd go to lucy's with a large group.

the food was decently priced. it won't stretch your wallet too much, but its also no bon's. everything on the menu seemed to range from $6-$10, and you can get a burger, fries & shake combo for $10.

the coffee is your average drip-diner coffee. coffee mugs are random shapes & sizes, and the corel mug made me feel like i was at my parent's home. nostalgia is lovely.

like a good vancouver restaurant, they have veggie options - burgers, sandwiches, salads..

when we were walking in, the lady coming out told us the mac and cheese was to die for. my friend had to get it. it was alright, she said, but not the best ever.

but i'm not a mac and cheese kind of person. i am in love with eggs & breakfast. when i eat out, and there is breakfast on the menu, its highly unlikely that i will choose a non-breakfast item. so at a 24hour diner serving all day and night breakfast, what do you think i ate?

the first time i got the down south breaky - baked beans, seasoned rice, poached eggs, monterey jack, & sour cream. it was pretty good! my only complaint was that i asked for cooked whites & runny yolks & got overpoached eggs instead. i know poached eggs are tricky, but its hard to let a badly poached egg go when its not that busy in a place.

my second visit, i wasn't terribly hungry when i came in, and yet i somehow managed to share a bacon eggs benedict with my boyfriend, and eat a large pancake by myself. the benny was decent, but it didn't stand out, and was a little dry. not sure if the hollandaise was homemade or not, but i assume a diner with a cheap priced benny would probably use pre-made stuff. i could be wrong. next time i'll ask. the pancake was delicious. i can't remember how good it was, like i can remember how good the pancakes are at crave just up the street, but the one side pancake i ate was just enough to quench my pancake craving.

all-in-all, i liked lucy's but i didn't love it. i don't think that's a bad thing, though. you wouldn't go to lucy's expecting a fine-dining experience, but you also won't be paying the same price. i know i'll be back. they're open 24 hour, they serve breakfast, and i love breakfast any time of day. and one of these days i'll stuff my breakfast cravings & try their burger, fries & shake combo.

where to find lucy's:

2708 main street, just off 11th
hours: all
Lucy's Eastside Diner on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 24, 2011

thursday thrift: episode 2

welcome to thursday thrift, a weekly installment that lets me discuss ways to be thrifty in the home & kitchen. last week i blabbed on about chickpeas and how its cheaper to use dried ones & cook them yourself instead of using canned beans. i ended with a promise of epic proportions - a tale of mystery & colonization...

i may have over-exaggerated a bit. (to allure you back) this is not an epic tale. this is, however, all about mystery and colonization. the colonization of bacteria, and how it mysteriously transforms milk into a thick, semi-solid state full of yumminess and healthiness.

last week i made my very own yogurt. well, i took pictures anyways. it is super easy - you can do it too!

here's how:

what you need:
milk (preferably organic whole milk)
a saucepan
a wisk
a container
a tablespoon or 2 of yogurt (unflavored, make sure it contains active bacteria)
a warm place in your house/ a container to keep your yogurt container warm

measure your milk by pouring it into the container you will be using later on. the amount of milk you use = the amount of yogurt you will get.

pour milk into saucepan.

put saucepan on high heat.

whisk your milk continuously as you heat it.

as SOON as it starts frothing (you will know because it will triple in size and want to spill over your saucepan), take it off the heat. OR, if you use a thermometer, you want it to reach 180 C, just before it boils.

pour scalding milk into your container. you want to cool it down now to a temperature of 110 or 115 C. to quicken that process, set your container in a bigger container full of cold water and stir your milk constantly. the temperature drops quickly, so be careful. we didn't have a thermometer, so we checked by dipping a finger in. if your finger can stay in for 10 seconds comfortably (without burning), then you're good to go. remove the container from the water.

add your yogurt and stir.

(best to use fresher yogurt. the bacteria in yogurt close to its expiry date may have less active cultures.)

close your container. now you want to keep it warm for 6+ hours. we wrapped ours up, and put a hot water bottle underneath to help with the warmth insulation. some sites suggest using a crockpot or a picnic cooler with towels or jars of hot water to keep it warm. the longer you keep it warm, the thicker and more sour it will be. check it at 6 hours, if it looks like yogurt & is thick enough, place it in fridge to cool.

and there you have it. homemade yogurt!

here are some other helpful yogurt links:
homemade baby food recipes

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

lasagne with bolognese sauce from scratch

i've avoided making lasagne for a while, thinking it was troublesome to make. but people kept telling me how easy it was! so when i saw a recipe for lasagne in my jamie oliver cookbook, i thought i'd give it a go. i thought 'perfect, i'll make a lasagne and have leftovers all week.'

the lasagne was great, i loved it. (though it needed more cheese)

however! i had very few leftovers, since my brother, sister and i had 2 huge servings each. i don't think i'll be making lasagne very often, for the very reason i've avoided it in the first place. its a bit of work when you are making your bolognese sauce from scratch.

here's what i did:

2 slices bacon, finely sliced
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
olive oil
2 heaped teaspoons dried oregano
1 lb ground bison (beef)
2 x 14 oz can dixed tomatoes
sea salt & black pepper
bunch of fresh basil, chopped
parmesan cheese

in a large pan on medium heat, add olive oil (roughly 2 tablespoons, or 'lugs' as jamie oliver calls them), bacon & oregano. cook & stir til bacon is cooked. add the veggies & stir until softened & lighter in color. 8 minutes or so. stir in the ground meat & tomatoes. fill one of the cans with water and add ot pan. stir in salt & pepper. bring to a boil, turn heat down, and simmer with lid for 45 minutes. stir once in a while.

remove sauce from heat & finely grate 2 ounces of parmesan cheese into sauce. stir in basil leaves. taste & season if it needs it.

preheat: 375 F.

8 oz dried lasagne sheets
2 cups sour cream
4 ounces parmesan
mozzarella cheese (optional, i added this)
1 large ripe tomato, sliced
basil leaves

grate 4 ounces of parmesan (and however much mozzarella you want). boil water in a pan, add lasagne sheets with a touch of olive oil and blanch for 4 minutes. drain the sheets and carefully pat dry. spoon a third of your sauce into a 9x12 pan. layer with lasagne sheets. add a third of your sour cream & smooth over to cover sheets. add a third of your cheese. repeat layers, finishing with the sour cream & cheese. top with your sliced tomatoes, a sprinkle of sea salt & pepper, basil leaves & drizzle some olive oil on. cover with foil, slide in oven, bake for 20 minutes. remove foil, cook for 35 more minutes until lasagne is golden. if you are uncertain, poke with a fork to make sure noodles are tender.

i served my lasagne with a simple salad of spinach leaves, marinated artichoke hearts, kiwi fruit, topped with almond slivers roasted with butter & brown sugar. drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette.

so this is just a base recipe. i think next time i would like to use ricotta or cottage cheese instead of sour cream, and definitely add more mozzarella. my mom used to make lasagne with layers of blanched spinach, and that was amazing as well. be creative. you might as well if you're going through so much work to make lasagne anyways!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

thursday thrift: chickpeas

my new weekly installment: thursday thrift.

with thursday thrift i will share & discuss ways to be thrifty in the home and in the kitchen. the purpose of thursday thrift is not just about saving money while still eating good food (though that is a large part of it, i assure you). i want to explore the idea of being more involved in the food i consume, and take pleasure in the act of creating beautiful, practical things with my own hands. i hope you will join me in my exploration of thriftiness in domesticity.

today's thrift:
i love hummus. i often make my own. i'm surprised i haven't written about making hummus yet, but essentially its chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper. you can use this recipe as a base if you like. but let's go a step further. instead of buying canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans) for your lovely, cheap, homemade hummus, buy them dried in bulk and cook them yourself. it takes a bit of pre-planning, but its cheaper, fresher, and tastes better too.

how to prepare and cook your dried chickpeas:

1: soak the beans overnight (8-10 hours) in a big container of water, in a cool place.*
2: next day, put the beans in a large pot & cover with water, leaving a couple inches at the top.
3: bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat & simmer. skim off the froth that develops.
4: simmer until cooked. 30-40 minutes. you could want them crunchy for salads, or mushy for hummus, so its up to your tastes.
5: drain the beans. i like to salt them at this point, before i use them or put them in the fridge for future use.**

*one cup of dried chickpeas makes just over two cups of cooked chickpeas.
** adding salt before the beans are fully cooked will toughen the beans

see that froth? skim it off with a spoon. you don't want it.

helpful, related links:
how to cook lovely, lovely legumes - limes & lycopene
preparing dried chickpeas for cooking -

hummus may be tasty and exciting, but i realise chickpeas are a dull, boring topic. so come back next thursday thrift, for an epic tale of mystery and colonization...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

food blog love: food. weekly. (an interview)

food. weekly. is a food blog written by a college friend of mine. we met in a 'writing for the media' class, where we discovered a shared love of dry humor and cynicism. we share other interests too, of course. like coffee. food. friends.

her name is emily.
emily is a writer.

emily has written for and interned with geez magazine, where she is currently a sections editor for letters. at the moment, she works in the arts industry, while exploring - and loving - the awesomeness of domesticity in southern manitoba with her husband, taylor. at the moment they are experimenting with weekday vegetarianism. you can read about her thoughts on that here.


emily has graced my blog with her presence by answering a few questions i asked her over email:

what's your day job? do you love it?

By day, I work for an Arts Council in rural Manitoba. I'm officially the administrative assistant, but the bulk of my days are spent running their concert series as well as their volunteer program. I work with some really awesome people, and I love being able to bring concerts and live theatre to people who might not otherwise experience it. My office runs in a system of organized chaos, and sometimes the chaos wears me out. That's one of the reasons I started the blog, to have a reason to do things that relax me - writing and baking!

why did you decide to start blogging about food? what was your inspiration?

I could spend days reading food blogs and searching recipes online. I have years-old food magazines that I pull out and look through. I love creating something that others can enjoy. Cooking and baking are somethings that I find really relaxing, so after a particularly stressful day at work, I made biscotti and started the blog. It's an outlet for my food obsessions and my stress levels.

what's the weirdest food you've experimented with?

I honestly can't think of a weird food that I have tangled with. I do have a tendency to make substitutions in recipes that seem logical to me...but really don't work. I made peanut butter rice crispie bars once with corn flakes. It seemed to work perfectly....until they cooled. I had a pan of corn bricks that I spent 20 minutes chipping from the pan.

favorite dessert?

A really ooey-gooey, smothered-in-icing cinnamon bun would be my top pick for dessert any day.

if you had to choose: chocolate cake or french fries?

My husband would love to eat chocolate cake day after day, so he would probably be upset to hear me say french fries. There is this great little diner about 20 minutes away that serves the best homemade fries. So good.

top 3 places you want to travel to purely for culinary reasons:

My top three culinary travel destinations would be:
1. Seattle. If for no other reason than to visit Pikes Place Market and sip on some fresh coffee.
2. Vancouver, BC. There seems to be a lot of really cool, trendy food shops and eateries there that I would love to explore. (And Joey could show me some of them!)
3. Any farmers market. Going to a good farmers market is like my personal disney world. I love to look at the all the stalls, buy fresh, local produce, and if I'm really lucky a lovely, fresh bouquet of flowers. It's the perfect day.

homemade chicken soup*

favorite food blog: (of course mine, wink wink, but you aren't allowed to use it)

(No fair! I was going to pick your blog!)
TasteSpotting is my (2nd) favourite foodie site to visit. It's not a food blog per say, but a catalogue that is updated daily with awesome finds from a variety of food blogs. I've found so many awesome new recipes to try, and discovered some great new blogs in the process.

what's the one food item you refuse to eat no matter what the circumstance?

I really can't handle any sort of weird cut of meat. If someone put beef tongue or sheep brain in front of me I would probably lose it. I'm grossed out even thinking about it.

homemade whoopie pies*

thanks emily for the interview! you will have to come visit me in vancouver, and we can try all my favorite joints as well as start on my list of places-yet-to-eat-at. also, you would love the farmers' markets here. and i mean LOVE them.

so check out food.weekly. and comment on emily's blog if you have any comments or questions for her!

*all photos in this post courtesy of emily's husband, taylor, who happens to be a photographer inspiration to me. check out his website or follow his blog. his 'squares' portrait series are particularly awesome.

Monday, February 14, 2011

i heart brownies - valentine's day redeemed

valentine's day has redeemed itself just a bit. our lovely little neighbours brought us not only cute valentines, but knocked at our door with a plate of adorable brownie hearts. i think four year olds can teach us a lot about love.

honest thoughts about valentine's day

i have to be honest here. i've never been a huge fan of valentine's day. okay okay, in elementary school i MAY have had a love of the stack of tacky store-bought cards i gave and received in class. i may have loved it very much. but as an adult, not so much. and it has nothing to do with the state of my love-life. when i am in a relationship, i am weary of the holiday just as much as when i'm single and lonely.

i do appreciate the celebration of love. i just think its stupid to cram it into this one day, produce so much wasteful - and tacky - things and decorations and etc, with the notion that it is THE day to tell your loved ones how much you love them. who needs creative ways to show your love when you can do it on valentines day with pre-packaged love manufactured by someone else?

last year at this time, i was in asia visiting my parents. i had a few friends over to do some baking, and since it was nearing valentine's day, we got a bit festive with our pies. (random note: making pie in a tropical climate, even with heavy air-conditioning, is a bit of a mess. cold butter doesn't stay cold very long so you have to work quickly!) i really need to do fun & creative things with and for the people i care about more often. if valentine's day gives you that push to do fun & creative things with and for the people you care about, that really is great. just try to do it a couple other times during the year too!

if you are one who hearts this day, do please have a happy valentines day!

if you are one who is cynical, have a happy monday, and show your loved ones you love them all week! i will start off my week by baking bread for my sister, inviting my brother over for coffee, and picking up my boyfriend from the airport.

Friday, February 11, 2011

its the weekend again

happy weekend everyone! take some time to enjoy the people in your life, as well as some good food & coffee.

next week i'm introducing some fun things to my blog, including a weekly feature that will start next thursday. you can guess all you want at what it is, but i won't reveal it 'til thursday. i am also starting to play volleyball on thursdays. both of these things make me excited. (but they aren't related, i can tell you that)

sandwich above consists of homemade bread, mayo, steamed spinach, fried eggs. simple & yummy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

east village bakery - east vancouver artisan bakery

the bakery from my brioche post a few days ago:
east village bakery.
i'll let the photos do the talking on this one.

east village bakery.
2166 east hastings street
hours: 9:30am - 7:00pm
closed mondays (but open this coming valentines day monday)
East Village Bakery on Urbanspoon