RSSArchive for June, 2008

Agape Coffee in Richmond

There is a new coffee place in Richmond. I decided to check it out with Polly for our probably last cake meet before the school closes for summer break. This could be our last cake meet on Tuesdays as Polly had resigned from her present job. When she looks for another job after summer, she may not get a day off during the week day and there goes our cake meet. But I wish her well in her new job seeking.

Agape Coffee is located inside President Plaza, next to T&T.

All the furnishings and equipments in Agape Coffee look brand new. We were expecting to see more desserts and cheesecakes as advertised in the Richmond Review but was quite disappointed. They only have two types of biscotti and a pastry type cookie at the moment.

The decoration is simple and rustic with brick wall and wooden tables and chairs. We had the most comfortable seats which is two sofas by the glass wall overlooking the street.

I ordered a medium Macchiato Coffee for $3.70. I learned from the server that Macchiato is like Cappuccino with more milk and foam. They do have good coffee.

Polly ordered a small Almond Latte for $3.30.

We only ordered a Prosciutto Panini to share since there is not much to choose from. The panini costs $5.99. Other than the strong herb flavour from the bun, there is nothing much to shout about the panini.

We were the only dine in customers when we were there from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm. There were a few customers who ordered to go. It’s always a challenge to start a business and it takes time for the business to establish in new location. I wish them luck and hope they will serve more desserts to go with their coffee.

Agape Coffee on Urbanspoon

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Any Tips for Vacation to Washington DC and Philadelphia?

Hi All … our summer vacation this year will be a road trip from Washington DC, through Philadelphia and New York. We are even thinking of making a short detour through the Amish community of Lancaster County. This time it’ll just be Suanne and I because the boys will be in their summer camp.

We’re looking forward so much to this trip because it had been over a decade since Suanne and I had a vacation just the two of us.

We get very good tips from you readers. Before the Seattle and New York trip earlier, there were tons of great tips and recommendations. So, we’re seeking your recommendations again.

Here is our general plan … two weeks, fly to Washington DC spend 4-5 days, drive to Lancaster County spend 1 day, drive to Philadelphia stay for 3-4 days and finally to New York, New York and spend a couple of days.

We got quite a number of books and even a Pilot Guides documentary from the Richmond Public Library. We had been spending time doing research. So for now here are our shortlisted things to see, do and of course, EAT!

Philadelphia

We had planned to visit the Reading Terminal Market and the Italian Market. Oh of course we will go to BOTH Geno’s and Pat’s for Philly Cheesesteaks for sure. We would like to check out one of the taverns but not sure which would be good. We are still debating whether to go to Marimoto’s (kind of expensive). We had a list of Philadelphia area food we want to try … soft pretzels, philly cheesesteak, haogia, water ice, scrapple, yeungling beer, German butter cake, tomato pie and pork roll. That about all we have short listed so far.

Washington DC

This will be an educational tour for us. We’ll be hitting as many museums and monuments as possible. Foodwise, the only thing we had shortlisted is Ben’s Chilly Bowl. I am sure there are more unique eateries so am looking at you to suggest.

Lancaster County

This will be a short trip to experience close up the Amish way of life. I heard that we’re not supposed to take pictures of the Amish people … is that right? Our focus here will be their unique food … Amish Friendship Bread, Pickled Beet Eggs, Schnitz un knepp, Apple Butter, Hog Maw, Birch Beer, Root Beer, Chicken and Waffle, Shoofly pie, Whoopie Pie, Funnel Cake, Fasnachts (donuts), Apple Dumplings! Any tips on this short trip to Lancaster County appreciated.

New York City

I am quite familiar now with New York. Suanne wanted to see New York and since we’re just in the neighborhood, we’ll pop by for 2 days. Highlight of the trip will be New York Cheesecake and the Statue of Liberty.

So … fire away. Let us know any restaurants we absolutely must check out.

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Strawberry Freezer Jam

Karen showed us how to make this beautiful Strawberry Freezer Jam. Summer is the time where we get all the delicious, nutritious and antioxidant laden berries and what better than preserving them in freezer jam for enjoyment all year round.

The Freezer Jam can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to 8 months.

This is a no-cook freezer jam using light pectin crystals. The freezer jam pectin requires less than half the sugar used in freezer spreads made with regular pectins.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups (2L) strawberries (about 2 lbs), hulled
  • 1 box (49g) light pectin crystals
  • 3 1/4 cups (800ml) granulated sugar

Do not use overripen strawberries for making freezer jam. This is due to the need for the acidity in the strawberries to react with the sugar and pectin to form the jam.

Click on the link below for the instructions.

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Dilled Beans Pickles

I was invited by Arzeena to attend another workshop at the Garrat Wellness Center again. This time, it’s Savouring Spring longer workshop. The workshop is conducted by Karen Dar Woon who cooks for the community meal at Gilmore Park Church. Karen demonstrated to us how to do home canning using the heat processing method and make a no-cook freezer jam.

The first demonstration is making Dilled Beans Pickles using the heat processing method. The green beans and carrots are steeped in a zesty dill brine. These pickles can be used in salad, relish trays or as garnishes. You can mix the brine with a bit of salad oil to make a flavorful vinaigrette dressing.

These pickles can be kept for 1 year if you follow the proper home canning method. The heat processing canning method kills the enzymes in food which cause the food to rot or spoil. Since we are preserving the food in a high acidity environment in our case, harmful bacteria will not survive in it. To learn more about home caning, you may visit this page.

Ingredients

  • 2.2 lbs (1kg) green beans
  • 2.2 lbs carrots
  • 3 small red or green peppers
  • 3 cups (750ml) white vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) pickling or Kosher salt
  • 18 peppercorns
  • 3 teaspoons (15ml) dill seed or 6 sprigs fresh dill
  • 6 cloves garlic

Click on the link below for the instructions.

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My First Half-Marathon

I am still hurting all over the day after — very badly. It was pure torture to say the least. I could barely walk up stairs today, the day after doing my first Half Marathon. To tell the truth, I could not even bring myself to step up a 3″ curb on the sidewalk today. But it was great fun.

The day started early. Suanne drove me to UBC just in the nick of time. I had barely 3 minutes before the race start after having lined up for 10 minutes at the port-a-loos. Seems like everyone is waiting to make a final pee before the start.

I tried to get to near the start of the line because I figured I’ll be one of the slowest runner and I better have a head start or else I will be quite lonely towards the end.

It started off OK. I was telling myself to run at my pace. My goal was to consistently stay within the 8:00 minute/km pace and I will make it well within my goals. The starting pace was 5:30 which was good and I felt strong.

At about the 13km mark, I begin to feel slight pain developing near the ball of my feet. It was my plantar fasciitis acting up and it was acting way too soon. I knew it was a starting sign of trouble and so I eased up hoping that it will go away. At that point I could begin to see Stanley Park in the far distance across the bay.

My longest run was 17K done two weeks prior. At the 17K mark, I looked at my watch and I am still ahead of my last 17K time. I was encouraged but knew it was still 4K to go. Then things went worse at the 18K mark. That’s when I get twitches which developed into cramps on both my thigh muscles. At some point it was so bad that my thigh muscles were as hard as rock. An ambulance rolled by and checked if I needed help but I ignored that. A runner asked if I am in pain. You bet I am … but I just waved them away saying I am OK.

I had to ease off more and started to walk. At that point, I knew that 2 hrs 45 minutes is outside my reach. But am determined to finish it before the 3 hr mark.

I did it at the nick of time, with just 2 minutes to spare! (that’s right … that’s me at the finishing line). It felt great but when I stopped I could barely move at all. Suanne and the boys were there at the finishing line to cheer me and I was so glad to see them. He he he … I think the boys think really highly of their dad despite the lousy time he did it in — I can see it in their eyes. Suanne told me that they were worried that I will not make it in 3 hrs and was saying repeatedly “uh oh, dad is not going to make it”.

After the race, both of them declared they wanted to do the half-marathon too … and that, to me, was priceless.

Well, I did not finish last. I finished second to last in my age group. LOL! But it does not matter to me, really. What really matters to me is that I had a goal, set my mind to it and achieve it … and I want my boys to learn that too.

So, what did Mr Chowtimes eat during the run? Suanne bought me the GU Energy Gel from The Running Room. It was about $2 per pack and each one of them packs a 100 calories. I had two packs during the run. Frankly, I did not like these espresso types … too thick for me. It’s like eating mushed up coffee beans. I like the orange flavoured ones they gave us on the route better.

So, after all the pain, almost 70 hours of running, hundreds of miles of running, I got the medal above just for finishing the Half. I realize now how difficult it is to run the full Marathon and how much more I need to prepare for it. I am going to take a break from running the next month or so and switch to cycling.

Will I continue to run? You bet I will. But I’ll just do another Half Marathon this year before deciding if I should go for the Full Marathon next year.

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Kisha Poppo Japanese Restaurant in Richmond

The secondary school ended the school year in the middle of June except for those who need to sit for provincial exam. Instead of going out for cake meet with Polly, we brought along our eldest sons (Arkensen and Webbie) who are in their early secondary grades for an all you can eat sushi lunch at Kisha Poppo Japanese Restaurant. They cant get enough of sushi.

Kisha Poppo has two locations in the Lower Mainland, one in Vancouver and the other in Richmond. We went to the one in Ironwood Plaza, 1060-11660 Steveston Hwy, Richmond. Although I had checked out the reviews for this restaurant which turned out to be not very good, we just wanted to give it a try. Anyway, most of the all you can eat sushi place have bad reviews.

We were there at 11:30 am where it just opened for lunch. The place actually fills up quite quickly as there were quite a lot of office workers who dine here, perhaps due to the proximity to their offices.

We opted for the All You Can Eat Lunch as the boys can eat a lot. The AYCE lunch is $10.95 for adult on weekday where the menu has 33 items to choose from.

We find that the service is very poor. First of all the service is slow. We have to wait for our food and there were times that our table is empty. We also dont like the way the order is taken. They did not supply an ordering sheet for us to write down our order. Instead, the waitress will take the order verbally and she rushed us through the order process and she seemed impatient when we stop to look at the menu. Overall the food is decent for an AYCE.

The only item the boys like is the salmon sushi. They had 23 pieces of salmon sushi all together.

Click on the link below for more photos of food.

Kisha Popo on Urbanspoon

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Ma Lai Ko

I have been looking for a proven recipe for Ma Lai Ko but not successful until now. This is another Ma Lai Ko recipe I found from a blog by bigboysoven. You can refer to the recipe from this link.

The texture of this Ma Lai Ko turns out quite spongy except that it’s bitter due to the amount of baking soda in the recipe. I do have a little doubt when I measured out the ingredients as I thought 1 tablespoon of baking soda seemed too much. Perhaps, 1 teaspoon is more reasonable and there should be some form of acidic components like lemon juice, yogurt, cream of tartar or buttermilk to go along with the baking soda in order for it to release carbon dioxide, i.e. to make the batter rise. Alternatively, the baking soda can be substituted with baking powder which is made of baking soda plus some acidic components.

No wonder bigboysoven recommended to serve the Ma Lai Ko with some ice-cream. The sweetness of the ice-cream does mask the bitterness of this Ma Lai Ko. I try to serve it with honey for breakfast but the honey is not sweet enough to mask the bitterness. I ended up throwing away the rest of the cake.

Do you have a proven Ma Lai Ko recipe to share? I would love to try it out.

Here is a successful version of Steamed Ma Lai Ko I discovered later.

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Steamed Moist Chocolate Cake

This blog is in response to Remya’s comment on Moist Chocolate Cake. I have no idea of how to bake the Moist Chocolate Cake in an oven which only has grill and reheat function. But I thought of the Chinese way of making cake which is by steaming.

So, I experimented with half of Moist Chocolate Cake recipe with steaming instead of baking. I used half of the recipe because that’s how much my steamer can accommodate. I steamed the cake for 30 minutes over high heat.

The cake turned up absolutely perfect, very moist and chocolaty. I would recommend using the steaming method in the hot summer.

Remya, I hope you will try out the steaming version of the Moist Chocolate Cake.

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