Category Archives: Food

DFO Community Advisor’s Last Fish Release on Burnaby’s Byrne Creek

Kids from Clinton Elementary in south Burnaby helped Byrne Creek Streamkeepers volunteers and DFO release coho smolts (yearling salmon) in Byrne Creek today.

It was a bittersweet event, as it was the last release on Byrne with retiring DFO Community Advisor Maurice Coulter-Boisvert.

But we’re very happy that long-time tech Scott is taking over Maurice’s role. Looking forward to working with you!

Byrne Creek coho smolt release
DFO and City of Burnaby staff share a laugh. It was that kind of uplifting day, and event, eh?

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers stalwart and Stream of Dreams co-founder Joan helps connect the kids to nature

Maurice on the salmon life cycle

Joan demonstrates proper fish release technique

Lining up to take fish down to the creek. The excitement is palpable. . . : – )

Netting coho smolts out of the tank, and putting them in baggies for the kids

Helping hands guide excited kids for a safe release

Look at them go!

Volunteer Ray points out how the fish quickly change color to match their new surroundings

They are so beautiful. Thanks so much to the volunteers at Kanaka Creek who raise these cuties!

Don’t mess with this crew : -)

Hours After Setting Up Mason Bee Station, Action!

We built this little shelter for our balcony and installed a mason-bee release box, and two containers of paper tubes that Yumi patiently rolled using bee-whisperer Joe Sadowski’s exact instructions as to proper sizing. He provided us with several dozen tubes, and a dowel to fashion our own.

Little bee station I made from scrap lumber saved in our garage. Nothing fancy, just a bit of shelter from rain. I had some old paint from painting a bedroom over ten years ago, and by chance it matches our siding :-).

Joe’s bee-release box at upper left — fashioned from a small plant container. A wooden box I made at center, and a pop-bottle tube holder Joe made on the right.

And within hours of taking cocoons out of their over-winter storage in the fridge, we’ve got action!

Yumi rolled over a hundred tubes in one evening!

mason bee action south Burnaby BC
Mason bees do not provide honey, but they are super pollinators, and are very docile and people-friendly.

I’d like to thank the City of Burnaby Parks Dept. for getting us started with mason bees a few years ago with their “adopt a mason bee condo” program in which volunteers were trained to monitor and maintain boxes supplied by the City and installed in municipal parks and schoolyards.

A few mason bee resources:

Suzuki Foundation How to Harvest Mason Bee Cocoons

West Coast Seeds A Year in Mason Bee Keeping

Bee Diverse — If you’re not handy and want to buy all your supplies this is a good source. Many garden shops also carry mason bee gear.

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