Category Archives: Food

Coho Smolt Release on Byrne Creek

Our DFO Community Advisor released about 5,000 coho smolts in Burnaby, BC, south slope creeks this morning. Byrne Creek, on which I volunteer, got a total of about 3,000 of those.

coho smolts
The yearlings are transported in a special tank and then transferred into the creek in buckets

coho smolts
A closeup of the seething mass of life. It appeared that we lost just two or three out of the thousands

coho smolt
DFO is now saying to clip the adipose fins on hatchery coho again, which means streamkeeper volunteers will be able to distinguish hatchery from wild coho when they return to spawn in a few years.

lush growth
The habitat was looking lush following this morning’s rain

lush growth

wet blossoms
Rain beading on blossoms

lonely blossom in the rain
Lonely blossom in the rain

Mason Bees Spotted on Our Balcony

We put out a box for blue orchard mason bees on our balcony, along with some cocoons, but we hadn’t seen any action. The cocoons were all holed and empty, and we feared predators like wasps had gotten all the bees.

Today I was happy to see a slow-moving, but live, mason bee. Hope to see more as the days go by. We’ve set out lots of flowers on the balcony of various species.

mason bee box

mason bee my thumb

mason bee






Blueberry flower

New Fishing Licences a Sign of Spring

I bought a BC Non-tidal Angling Licence and a Fisheries and Oceans Canada Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Licence today, both with salmon stamps. Such licences expire at the end of March, and renewing them around this time of year has become a rite of spring.

I am by no means an avid fisherman, but I enjoy hiking, camping, nature photography, streamkeeping and other outdoor activities, so I like having the proper licences if the opportunity arises to wet a line. I have a couple of inexpensive rods and reels, and a small tackle box with an assortment of enough lures and accessories to be suited to most fishing in western Canada.

I have a cousin who loves fishing, and I’m always learning when I go out with him.

I have store-bought canned fish in the cupboard and frozen fish in the freezer, so I figure if I’m eating fish I might as well kill some myself. It’s a reminder that cans and plastic wrap do not insulate us from nature, though nowadays lots of folks have no idea where their food comes from.

Informative Burnaby Mason Bee Workshop

I attended a mason bee workshop sponsored by the City of Burnaby today. I’ve been to these before, but I always learn something new. Today’s speakers were bee expert Margriet Dogterom who runs BeeDiverse Products and bird box and bee box builder extraordinaire Joe Sadowski.

Margriet Dogerom
Margriet in action

Joe Sadowski
Joe mentioned that he turned “83 years young” the other day!

When he saw me, he gave me a punch in the shoulder by way of greeting. I may have a bruise coming on 🙂

Melinda Yong
Organizer Melinda Yong of the City of Burnaby Parks Department

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.