Category Archives: Food

Celebrating New Year Japanese Style in Burnaby, BC

I love celebrating New Year Japanese style.

We tape the entire Kohaku Red (Women) vs White (Men) NHK song extravaganza to our PVR, and watch it at our leisure over the course of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. It’s always a bit over the top, a tish maudlin, and with few actually gripping or moving performances, but it’s a fun way to stay somewhat in touch with contemporary Japanese music and culture.

The food is great. Sushi, sashimi, chawan mushi, and a couple of bottles of choice nihonshu (sake) shared with friends.

Ringing the temple bell at midnight at Tozenji in nearby Coquitlam is always fun, too. Out with the old, in with the new.

Returning home at a crazy hour and cooking and eating toshi koshi soba for long life and prosperity.

Here’s Yumi’s Japanese-Canadian fusion tableau in our foyer:


Made Borshch Today – You Made What?

Being of Ukrainian descent, I spell  борщ as borshch in English. Ain’t no “t” in Ukrainian borshch.

So what’s in my borshch?

It varies by what’s in the fridge, and I have no fixed recipes or quantities or proportions of ingredients. Whatever looks good. But I do make it on the filling side, almost like a vegetable stew, though I never add a thickener like flour.

I am proud of my hearty peasant borshch. It’s nearly a meal in itself, not like that pale pink, liquid-only stuff served at some hoity-toity Ukrainian events.

You know, the stuff that looks likes someone wiped an empty borshch pot with a wet dishrag, then wrung out the dishrag into a small bowl or cup, and served it to you : -).

Today’s borshch began with a tablespoon of beef bullion in a fairly large pot of water. A big onion, diced. Two large beets sliced and diced. A couple of chopped carrots. About a quarter of a small green cabbage, shredded.

Something that was a bit different this time was a handful of sliced shitake mushrooms, which add a distinctive, but not overpowering flavour.

And I usually add some sort of canned or fresh beans or peas to give the soup more heft. Today I tossed in a can of chick peas, rinsing them first.

It was very good, and healthy, too!

Mason Bee Condo Destroyed in Burnaby Park

Someone destroyed a mason bee condo that my wife and I volunteer to take care of in Ron McLean Park in SE Burnaby, BC.

Mason bees are beneficial pollinators and are no threat to anyone.

This is so sad. I cannot comprehend such wanton destruction. There was even a sign that explained the program, and that mason bees are no threat to anyone.

I am including the “food” category in this blog, because without pollinators like mason bees, we would have little or no fruit and many vegetables.

Mason Bee condo destroyed in Burnaby



Small Sockeye This Year?

I bought our first wild sockeye of the season at Save-On Foods in Burnaby, BC, today.

It was small, weighing in at 0.686 kg, or about 1.5 lbs. Of course that’s sans head and guts, but it still appeared undersized. All of the sockeye at Save-On looked small. Certainly way smaller than the pinks I fished on the Fraser last year.

Come to think of it, the fish looked not much bigger than a coho jack — a male coho salmon that returns to spawn a year early.

According to the DFO Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Guide, a sockeye “usually weighs between 2.2 kg and 3.1 kg, but can reach 6.3 kg.”

UPDATE: I’ve been looking into this online, Googling and reading academic papers, and have come to the conclusion that while small, this fish was likely not an outlier.

Most research and reporting on fish sizes and weights presents “average” ranges, and it’s hard to find information about what the usual minimum weights are. However I did find the following on the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada government website:

“Commercially caught sockeye range in weight from 2 to 9 pounds and are graded according to size: 2-4 lbs., 4-6 lbs., and 6-9 lbs.”

So I guess that 1.5-pound dressed fish was not an outlier.