Mmmmmm burgers

We got some of the tastiest hamburger from Urban Digs a little while ago, but because of many reasons (steak, bacon, etc 😉 ) we hadn’t had a chance to delve in and try it. Urban Digs is a local farm just down the road from us here in Burnaby, BC and we get a lot of our meats and vegetables from them.

Once I unwrapped the meat, I thought it would look great raw, and I think I was right, don’t you?

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Rather than make something really involved, we opted for hamburgers. You just can’t beat a good old fashioned hamburger. I thought about barbequing them but my wife thought they would cook much better on our cast iron pan and she was so right.

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We got some white potatoes and twice cooked them to make the crispy, and some freshly made buns.  We happened to have a delicious pepper mustard and fresh pickles (also courtesy of Julia over at Urban Digs) and my wonderful wife’s home made cole slaw.

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There you have it! It tasted absolutely wonderful.

Some recent #foodislife stuff

I’ve been working on a complete overhaul of one of my other websites which has been keeping me busy. But I thought I should write a bit of an update of all the wonderful meals we’ve done recently. If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen a few of these, but I think they’re worth sharing twice.

I have also seen a pretty decent improvement in my photography as well, and while I am not 100% sure what’s changed, I believe its a combination of different lighting set ups and better staging. Luckily, my wife has taken a very active interest in how her food hits the plates.

_DSC2241Above is our orange ginger beef dish. With thick udon noodles, fresh orange slices and a lot of ginger, this dish is very flavourful. We usually by a big inside round roast at a big box store and I slice it into nice thin strips. I usually get enough for 3-4 meals (we vaccuum seal and freeze).

We marinate the beef overnight with garlic, ginger and some soy plus whatever my wife thinks will add more taste. I prep all the veggies and it all comes together easily and quickly. Delicious!

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Marrying into a Jewish family introduced this country boy to many new and very tasty foods. My favorite is matzoh ball soup. We keep a few one litre frozen tubs of chicken soup stock that we make from whole chickens a few times a year (we have a big freezer). A few of those, plus some whole carrots, maybe a little chicken to be a little different from tradition, plus big tasty matzoh balls, makes for a comforting, sleepy meal.

Below are a few that I shot for our great friends over at Urban Digs farm. We have a great arrangement combining delicious, ethical foods and photography. I made some fresh bread to go with fresh seiglundi potatoes, toulouse sausage and huge, delicious duck eggs.

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We also got some beautiful swiss chard that we combined with spuds and steak. Here is “before”.

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_DSC1967But spring has arrived, and that means summer salad season is coming up. After a harsh winter with literally millimeters of snow (I live in sunny BC, I think we had one afternoon of snow 😉 ), it’s time to open the windows and have some fresh food. A simple chicken salad suited us very nicely.

_DSC2001My wife loves mangoes. So when they are in season we always buy them by the case. One of our favorite recipes is this citrus-y summer salad of fresh mango, veggies, glass rice noodles and cucumber. We often add bbq pork tenderloin to it as well.

_DSC2076More recently, we tried to make eggs benedict. Using rosemary ham from the deli, and a recipe we found online, these surpassed our expectations. Absolutely delicious!

_DSC2198Finally, last night we put the cast iron pans to use and made this crispy, tasty pork rib chop with decadent mashed potatoes, roasted carrots and broccoli. Succulent and extremely filling!

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So that’s been my last couple of weeks. I have many more foods and photos but I wanted to show you just a taste of what my daily life is like. :) Enjoy!

Home made take out

_DSC1498There’s always something fun about getting take-out. The no-fuss, no work, no clean up aspect plus the tasty, decadent (sinful?) food orgy of food that you know is probably very bad for you. I’m guilty of it, and we try to get away from it when we can. We meal plan, we buy healthy things, but at the end of the day, sometimes you just want a treat.

So what we’ve taken to doing at home is that when there is time, we try and recreate some of our take-out favorites. A bit more time spent, but less expensive and certainly healthier.

This time we made one of our favorite Chinese take-out items, beef with broccoli. It was dead simple. We bought a roast from one of the big box stores and I spent a little time slicing it into stir fry portions. I vaccuum sealed the majority in one pound bags for other meals, and saved a pound for our supper. I then sliced 2 large carrots, chunked an onion up, 2 cloves of garlic and about 2 cups of broccoli florets.We also started the rice cooker with some brown rice.

My wife fired off the meat after a little dusting of corn starch and placed the almost-done beef in a bowl. In the now-seasoned pan she made a rich gravy and added the vegetables and seasoned to taste. As they got done she added the beef back in. A few stirs and some simmering, and it’s done.

We plated it over the rice and I decided on an oval plate for my photos for submission to my agencies.

stir fry beef

 

Blueberry pancakes

blueberry pancakes

Growing up in rural Nova Scotia, the beach was just at the edge of the lawn. Or more accurately, through the trees in the lawn (that were hell to mow around) and over the very steep embankment. But I grew up in cottage country. During the summers there were always kids hanging around. Pam and Chris, Rene, Mike, Teddy, Sean, Paul, Mikey, all the cousins… and a lot who came and went just for one summer at a time.

At least once or twice each summer, my father would make a huge bucket of pancake batter and spend all morning flipping pancakes for all the kids. I don’t know how they all knew (no phones) but over the course of breakfast the crowd would get bigger and bigger.

blueberry pancakes

Dad would also do custom shapes for the pancakes on demand. He’d do cartoon characters, sea animals, etc. I wish I could say that they were works of art, but they took some imagination for sure. :)

My dad was a born entertainer, and the kids loved hanging around and he’d tell stories while he made their breakfasts. Even some adults would show up. It was that kind of place. No invites necessary, just pop in and if someone is home, there you go.

We would watch him do all the flapjacks in this enormous cast iron pan, batter, bubbles, flip and so on. And then feast on them with lots of butter and maple syrup. Sticky, full and slightly sick, we’d all run off afterwards to play on the beach.

My wonderful wife made me these this past weekend. My father passed away on Saturday, and it seemed fitting to have something that had a really good memory attached.

 

Ode to Bacon

I wrote this back in 2005 but I think it still stands up.

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Ode to Bacon

Oh bacon, fruit of the pig
the sound of your frying lights up my heart
with dreams of crispiness
when the slices are big

I pan fry potatoes in your fat and your grease
hardening my arteries and hurting my stomach
but my taste buds go wild
when the portion sizes increase

I like you for breakfast or as a midnight snack
and blt’s are priceless while
a clubhouse sandwich makes me happy
why worry about a heart attack?

I have it with liver or drape it on duck
if it didn’t give me worms I’d eat it raw
when I take it from the freezer I wait
and pine for it to thaw
and then, oh what luck

Oh bacon, I can smell it
in my dreams sometimes
cause its just so goooooood
can you tell it?

Urban Digs Farm – Burnaby BC

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Heritage pork tenderloin. the smaller portion sizes are mainly because of the lack of fillers and additives. Denser meat without being tough, the pork is incredibly filling.

We found this great farm just “over t’road” from us last summer. We popped in to try their vegetables a few times and later we discovered that they also do pig shares, meaning we invest in a real piggie and get a share of it when its ready to be butchered. Of course having a small interest in bacon and other bacon related items, we decided to give them a try. Plus we’ve been trying to support local farms more and more. For years I knew next to nothing about local (sustainable and ethical) farming except for tomatoes and garlic at the farmer’s markets we usually go to. I have to tell you that after the first bite, I was hooked. So was my wife. Heritage pork is to store bought pork as wine is to water. It was (and still is, we bought a lot) delicious!

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Pork neck chops. Not terribly common in Canada, but so good!

I struck up a conversation with Julia, one of the dedicated owners, and mentioned how much we loved the food and oh, by the way, I am also a food photographer. One chat led to a few more and after some discussion, we decided to work out a deal using her foods and my photography. So far, its working out well!

new york strip steak

New York strip steak, done to a juicy medium rare with some mushrooms and onion.

new york strip steak

Urban Digs also supplies chicken, duck, seasonal vegetables, eggs, memberships, and they have sausages, beef and honey. And as you can see below, pickles, sauces and spreads. Their biggest and awesomest product though, is their Beasty Box. Check it out.

Seriously go right now. You’ll like it. I promise.

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British slices, an elegant and positively civilized pickle.

A little banana pepper mustard for my braut made this a perfect meal.

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Heritage pork bratwurst sausage.

I have a tonne more photos to shoot, and food to eat. Urban Digs is located t 4992 Byrne Road Burnaby, BC. Pop in sometime when their market is open.

To be continued…