Category Archives: Food

Rescuing Tofu’s Bad Rep


I think tofu has an unnecessarily bad rep. You just have to know where to get the good stuff. And there are few places to get the good stuff.

I have never yet found any tofu in a major “western” supermarket that I liked. It’s rubbery. It’s tasteless. It’s ickilly smooth.

Here’s what I look for: It’s bought in an Asian market, preferably Japanese. It’s “momen,” or “momendofu” meaning it has weight and a non-icky, slightly textured consistency.

Once opened, you have to eat it in a day or two. If it lasts longer than that in your fridge, it’s got too many preservatives and who knows what other chemicals in it.

If you can serve it cold, cubed, with only a dash of quality soy sauce and sprinkled with bonito flakes, and it’s yummy — that’s my tofu.

If it’s some weirdness shaped into “hot dogs” or “hamburgers” and saturated with artificial flavours, yuck.

Celebrating an Accomplishment

I’ve lost nearly 50 pounds this year, or about 22.5 kg. That’s about a pound a week. A slow, steady, disciplined approach of counting calories and exercising regularly worked.

I had help from an app called My Fitness Pal to count calories and track exercise, and there are lots of other apps out there.

I never felt horribly hungry, and I always ate well from all food groups. This was no fad of only certain foods, or oceans of liquids, or anything like that. And it wasn’t about completely eliminating anything from my diet. I still ate meat, potatoes, bread, pasta, and still enjoyed beer and wine.

It was just a healthy, well-rounded diet with a combined calorie target not to be exceeded every day. And about an hour of aerobic exercise a day five times a week. I simply walked — a lot! And I greatly enjoyed those walks, too, exploring various parks and neighbourhoods.

I’m down two pant sizes and am wearing jeans that hadn’t been touched in ten years.

Feels great!

Aging Cat Still Displays Amazing Sensory Skills

The sensitivity and prescience of the average house cat boggles the mind.

I just spent 45 minutes banging around in the kitchen making oatmeal, choco chip, sesame cookies, while the cat slept in my office in the basement. She did not stir.

Last batch of cookies out of the oven, I fed the turtle in her sun lamp-lit corner of the living room, turned around, and there’s the cat sitting by her dish. Sheesh.

You know the rule, Daddy, feed one, gotta feed the other!

US Charging Ahead on Enviro Issues, Canada Stuck in the 50s

I’ve been attending the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, and as at previous ones, I am yet again in awe of coordinated volunteer – municipal – tribal (in Canada First Nations) – state – federal conservation efforts in the US.

Yes, we like to slag our southern neighbours for many things, but they are way ahead of us on many others.

Canada? We’re doing good here and there, but we suck at coordinated action. And in Canada, for the last decade at least, the burden has increasingly fallen on volunteers, with federal and provincial governments abdicating their responsibilities, and slashing enviro-related staff and funding.

A major hurt is that Canada is still so 20th century. To see the ruling-party hydroelectric dam platform in BC is to read something from the 1950s.

The US is demolishing dams, setting rivers, wildlife and salmon free, unleashing renewable, long-term natural and economic potential along the way.

Here in Canada, our governments still want to pour concrete in pristine rivers and flood massive areas of our most productive farmland and traditional First Nations hunting and fishing territories.


Green/Blue initiatives will provide jobs.

Meeting the Herring Whisperer

I’d heard about the great success that Squamish Streamkeepers have had in wrapping pier pilings so that spawning herrings’ eggs are not killed by creosote and other chemicals. Today my wife Yumi and I had a chance to meet Dr. Jonn Matsen at Fishermen’s Wharf on False Creek in Vancouver to see some of the techniques in action.

herring spawning net
Jonn and my wife Yumi hold up a net as a TV news cameraman lines up a shot

herring spawning net
Jonn points out how creosote kills herring eggs. There’s no eelgrass or kelp left around here for more natural spawning sites

herring spawning net
Net suspended in the water from the wharf

herring eggs piling
Closer view of herring eggs on piling

Made Paella Tonight – Folks Asking for Recipe

I made paella tonight. It’s not something I cook often, but perhaps two or three times a year. Folks on FB were asking for the recipe, and since this took some time to write out, I thought I’d post it here, too. I’m not an expert by any means, but this works for me.

Preheat oven to 400 F / 200 C

Saute a dozen (headless if you’re squeamish : – ) prawns with shells on (adds more flavour to the paella and your fingers if you peel shells later : -), boil half a dozen mussels for two minutes, tossing in a dozen clams with the boiling mussels for the last minute. Discard any mussels or clams that do not open.

Many recipes also call for sauted chicken drumsticks/thighs, or diced sauted chicken breast, diced chorizo or other sausage, etc., but just seafood is fine if that’s what floats your boat. I also sometimes add chunks of sauted non-oily, lighter fish, like basa.

Take a few strands (a pinch) of saffron and steep in a bit of water. Can put more if you like, but there’s no need to go crazy with it.

Prepare 1.5 liters of broth (I just use chicken powder, but of course it’s better from scratch if you have time, using whatever base you like), You can also substitute some of the water the mussels/clams were boiled in if you’re really into seafood flavour.

Chop an onion or two and lightly saute with a quartered tomato or two. Garlic, for those who like it.

Put about 600g (~1.5 lbs) of uncooked long-grain rice in an oven-safe stone pot or casserole dish. Stir in the broth, the onions and tomatoes, toss in some peas. Stir in the steeped saffron. Salt and pepper if you like. I find the broth and saffron alone do the trick.

Take the prawns, clams in their now open shells, and mussels in their now open shells, and press them on top of the rice mixture. Bake uncovered in oven for 25-30 minutes. Around the 20-minute point I peek in the window every couple of minutes to see if there is still liquid percolating at the bottom of the glass casserole dish.

Take out and let stand for ten minutes or more before serving.

I’m sure there are plenty of variations. It’s hard to go wrong, so try what you like and seems interesting. Just be sure to saute, boil, or otherwise cook whatever seafood and un-smoked meats you are using, as appropriate or to your taste, before arraying them on top of the rice mixture, because 25 minutes in the oven is likely not enough to cook them thoroughly. (And you want to make sure any fresh shellfish opens up for you).

Cooler Weather = First Batch of Oden Since Last Winter

You know you’re sliding toward fall and winter when you make your first batch of oden. It’s a bit late to dig in now (9:30pm) but it’ll be great with a side dish of genmai brown rice in the morning.

Anyway it’s often better when you let it sit for awhile and let all the flavors mingle…

Oden on stove

Yumi’s Mom in Aomori (northern Japan) makes wonderful nishime in the fall & winter — I get the impression that her stock simmers for months and she just keeps replenishing veggies and seafood.