Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Another Beer Company

Another Beer Company brewery

Another Beer Company opened up in New West this week. Like, that’s the name of the company. You see, we had one beer company in New West before this – the amazing Steel & Oak – and now we have another beer company.

This company has been in the works for quite some time, as beer companies have to do, what with all the finding of a workable location, doing renos, getting permits and so forth. Not too long ago, I joined the ABC Original Patrons, where you give them $250 and you get a $250 gift card, a hoodie, invites to exclusive patron parties, and glory.

Of course, the soft opening for patrons happened when I was out of town, so I went in today to check out the place and pick up my swag. It’s quite a small brewery – see the little black machine in the picture below:

Another Beer Company taps

That’s the device they use to hand can their beers. Seriously, they can their beer BY HAND. Right now you can only get tasters at the brewery, as they are waiting for their lounge license to come through, and then you’ll be able to go there and have a pint. But not a growler fill, as apparently they don’t make enough beer to do growlers.

Another cool thing about this brewery is how you get there. It’s located in the Braid industrial area of New West, which is where there is industrial space for such things as breweries. It’s a bit tricky to access and if you don’t want to drive there, up until recently you’d have to risk your life running across a very busy road where people drive very fast in order to get to that area.

But now Translink has opened up what was formerly a fire exit at the Sapperton Skytrain Station to be a regular exit, so you can take stairs down from the the Skytrain platform to the Braid industrial area. And even if you haven’t ridden the Skytrain and are just walking there, you can tap into the station and then tap out of the station at the bottom of the stairs and you won’t get charged. 

When I went there today, this sign was on the door at the bottom of the stairway:This sign was totally lying

But I just pushed the door open and it was totally fine. And today would have been my dad’s 74th birthday, so I am yet again honouring his memory by ignoring a sign and going through a door that says “do not go through this door.” Wish my dad was here for me to tell him this story. 

Anyhoo, I made it to the brewery, safe and sound, picked up my swag, enjoyed a couple of tasters (my favourite was the Belgian saison), ran into a couple of people that I know (because New West), and all-in-all, it was a lovely Sunday afternoon.

 

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All the rest of the new foods that I made this year

I’m back dating this posting to yesterday because I had it mostly written but didn’t quite get around to finishing it before I had to leave for a New Year’s Eve party last night.

When I last wrote about the new foods I made this year as part of my goal to make 18 food items or beverages that I have never made before, I’d only made 5 foods. Of course, that was back in February, and I’ve made a lot of things since then. Thirteen things, so be specific.

  1. a saison beer
  2. olive tapenade
  3. beer battered fish tacos
  4. salmon cakes
  5. balsamic vinaigrette
  6. peach-bourbon jam – made this from peaches I got in the Okanagan. And it was a huge hit with those who I shared it with1
  7. mint juleps – made these for my friend Kim and her boyfriend when they came over for dinner with mint from my balcony garden
  8. pickling spice – made this so I could make spicy pickled carrots
  9. spicy pickled carrots
  10. cream of asparagus soup – made this with my sister’s Vitamix for my aunt who came over for lunch when I was at my sister’s place over Christmas
  11. Godfather – a delicious beverages that is made from whiskey & amaretto
  12. sugar pie – made this for Christmas dinner
  13. Irish soda bread – got this recipe from a friend of mine who tweeted their grandmother’s recipe. It is so simple to make and very delicious!

So there you have it – the remaining 13 new things I made this year to complete my goal of making 18 new foods and/or beverages this year. 

And I’m already looking forward to making even more new things in 2019. The list of ideas so far include: sourdough bread, plus sauce, ginger beer, pickled asparagus, and, inspired from our trip to Scotland: Scottish tablet and Cullen skink.

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Stuff I Learned This Year: Scotch Edition

I remember the first time I tried scotch like I were yesterday. I was with some of my nerdy science friends, one of whom worked in a lab where the lounge has an amazing view of the False Creek. So a group of us went there to enjoy the view and drink some scotch. And I thought the scotch was terrible! I did not enjoy the smokey peatiness at all. 

And so, for many years, I thought I just didn’t like scotch. It was only fairly recently that I learned that not all scotch is peated and tried some non-peated scotches, which I quite liked.

So on our recent trip to Scotland, we made sure to go to a few scotch distilleries to learn more about it! We went to two distilleries, both of which are very new:

Clydeside Distillery
Clydeside Distillery
Gift when staying Isle of Raasay Distillery guest house

We actually stayed at the Isle of Raasay distillery, which also has guest accommodations attached to the distillery. And when you stay they, they give you this little sample of their Raasay While We Wait single malt scotch whiskey and two scotch glasses (shown in the photo above).

I’ll write more about both of these distilleries whenever I finally get around to properly blogging about that trip. For this posting, I’m going to focus on things that I learned about scotch!

In no particular order:

  • Like Canadian whisky, Scotch whisky has to be aged for at least 3 years in a barrel1. In addition, it must be:
    • distilled in Scotland
    • aged in Scotland
  • “Single malt” scotch whisky, as the name suggests, must be made from only malted barley (and no other cereals). It must also be made at a single distillery (though it can be made in different batches) and in a pot still.
  • “Single grain” scotch whisky must also be made at a single distillery.
  • “Blended malt” scotch whisky is a whiskey made by blending two or more single malt scotch whiskies and “blended scotch whiskey” is a whiskey made by blending one or more single malt whiskies with one (or more) single grain scotch whiskies.
  • Peated whisky is made by blowing smoke from a peat fire to dry the malt you use to make the whisky.
  • At one point in history, the further you were from England, the less tax you paid, os there are more distilleries in the northern part of Scotland than in the southern part.
  • Whiskies that are made or aged on the islands tend to have a bit of salty taste to them from the salt air.
  • After prohibition ended in the US, they made a law that all bourbon had to be aged in virgin oak barrels (the law was meant to create more jobs for coopers (i.e., barrel makers)). A lot of scotch distilleries will use bourbon barrels to age their scotch, because those barrels were cheap to by (since the bourbon makers couldn’t use them a second time).

These are the different regions of Scotland and the types of scotch you get from each:

Clydeside Distillery

I tend to like the Highland scotches.

In addition to the two aforementioned, distilleries, we tried to go to Torabhaig Distillery, which we happened to drive by well, but they were closed on Sundays. Here’s a photo of my sneaking past the “no entry” sign.

Torabhaig Distillery

When we were in Glasgow, we went to a pub called The Pot Still, where they had over 700 whiskies. The bartender there told Scott that you don’t call a scotch whisky “smooth”, you call it “soft”. But then we heard lots of other Scots referring to whisky as “smooth”, and I’ve seen scotches described as “smooth” on packaging for scotch, so I am doubtful that this is true. Regardless, it was a pretty good pub!

The Pot Still

We also checked out a place called the Scotch Whisky Experience when we were in Edinburgh. We didn’t do any of their tours, but we did check out their large whisky shop!

The Scotch Whisky Experience

While there, Scott bought a bottle of Royal Lochnagar 12 year old single malt:

Royal Lochnagar

And I bought my bottle – Glen Deveron 16 year single malt – at the Duty Free at the airport. Did you know that you can do scotch tastings at the Duty Free at the airport? I told them I wanted a smooth Highland whisky and they brought out several for us to try!

Glen Deveron scotch

We were sad that we were only allowed to bring back one bottle of scotch each!

  1. You can read the whole Scotch Whisky Regulations as http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2009/2890/contents/made if you are so inclined. []

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Stuff I Learned This Year Aeropress Coffee Making Edition

While I was getting my place painted, Scott and I stayed at his place. But Scott didn’t have a coffee maker – he only had an Aeropress. And thus I had to learn how to use it!

It was actually pretty simple, but hey, it’s a new thing I learned this year, so it totally counts!

Here’s all the stuff you use:

Aeropress

First, you need to put the little filter in this circle thingy (which you’ve put on top of a cup) and wet the filter with hot water:

Aeropress

Then you put the coffee grounds into the tube thingy, which you’ve put on top of the circle thingy:

 AeropressAeropress

Then you fill it with boiling water and stir.

Let it sit for a few minutes, and then press the plunger down to make the coffee come out:

Aeropress

If it’s too strong, you can put some more water in it (sort of like an Americano).

And viola, you have coffee!

Personally, I prefer to just use my drop coffeemaker, but this thing is useful when you don’t have a coffeemaker with you!

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The Etiquette of Bus Wine

WineSo I was on the bus on the way home from work yesterday and two men got on the bus, sat down a few seats away from where I was sitting, and then one of them took a bottle of wine out of his bag, opened it up and took a swig right out of the bottle. But the thing is – it was my favourite wine1. So part of me is like “Oh my god, you can’t drink wine on the bus!” and the other part of me is like “Omg, that is such good wine!” And then after he and his buddy had each taken a drink, he offered it to the guy next to him, who was like “Uh, no.” And again I was torn – part of me was like “why aren’t they offering it to me? It’s my FAVOURITE WINE! Where are your manners??2” but also “Eww, I don’t want to drink wine from a bottle that random strangers have been drinking from.” I already think transit is germy enough!

Image Credit: Posted by Troy Kasper Photography on Flickr with a Creative Commons Licence.

  1. For the record, it is Ogopogo’s Lair, a Pinot Grigio by Prospect Winery. Now, wine snobs may laugh at me, and it’s not like I’m saying it’s the best wine in the world or anything, but as a relatively affordable wine, it’s my fav! Also for the record, I have no affiliation with Prospect Winery; they haven’t paid me to say their wine is delicious, so I am in no way compromised, bribed, or otherwise induced to write anything about their delicious, delicious wine. If someone from Prospect Winery is reading this and would like to send me a case or twelve of their delicious wine to bribe, compromise, or otherwise induce me, I’m not going to say no. I’m just saying. []
  2. Props are due to Dr. Dan for the title of this blog posting, which he suggested after I regaled him with this story in person. []

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Sunshine Coast

So we didn’t actually die in that cabin in the woods, as naming my blog post after a horror movie might have led one to believe. As per usual, life has been busy and here it is 23 days after our trip and I’m finally blogging about it.

Usually when I go on a trip, I come back with a lot of stories (and thus really, really long blog postings). But this trip, while I quite enjoyed it, was not like that. When I got back, my work colleagues were all “how was your trip?”, but I didn’t really have stories to tell. It was mostly “I walked through this forest, looked at these trees, and sat by this water. Then I walked through that other forest, looked at those other trees, and sat by that other water.” Doesn’t really make for good story telling, but it does make for some good relaxation and some nice photos.

We did go to see the Skookumchuck Rapids, but apparently they are much rapider on some days than other (and some days there are super cool whirlpools), but  none of the days we were on the Sunshine Coast were days when the rapids were rapid. Still pretty though.

Trial on the way to the rapids:Skookumchuck Narrows

This was on the trail and it freaked me out. It looks like a giant spider that is spying on you:This tree freaks me out. It looks like a giant bug that is hunting for humans!

Me in front of the non-rapid rapids:Beth

Another place we went was Smuggler Cove. Apparently this cove was a place that was used to smuggle Chinese people who had worked on the railway down to the US to find work after the railway was finished (and thus Canada was done with them, since we don’t have a very good history when it comes to how we treated many people, including Chinese people who built the railway.) The cover was later also used by rum runners to bring booze down to the US during Prohibition.

Smugglers Cover

Smugglers Cover

Smugglers Cover

Smugglers Cover

We also went to some random little beach that I don’t even know if it has a name. On the path to that beach, there was this cute little bridge that someone had built to connect their property to the path over a little creek. So cute:

BridgeAnd here’s the beach:

On a beach on the Sunshine Coast

We walked through a bunch of other trails, looked at many other trees, and sat by various waters, but I don’t seem to have taken photos of them.

We didn’t see as much wildlife as I expected – just a few deer, birds, fish, and this snake:Snake

We saw a beaver dam, but no beavers and we saw this turtle sign, but sadly saw no turtles.

Turtle Crossing sign

We also didn’t see Rudolph:

Rudolph Crossing

We checked out a few booze-making places, including The 101 Brewhouse & Distillery and Gibsons Tapworks (both of which I appear not to have taken any pictures), and Bricker Cider, where I did take photos because their logo is adorable:

IMG_8537IMG_8536

I’m not usually big into ciders, but I got a flight and quite liked all the ones I tried – especially the peaches & cream, which was their seasonal flavour at the time. It was so smooth and they weren’t sickly sweet, which ciders sometimes can be.

I also snapped this shot of Sechelt Hospital to send to my team at work, as it’s one of the hospitals that is involved in the project that we are working on:
Sechelt Hospital

We also saw the Persephone, the boat from the TV show the Beachcombers:

Persephone

It’s right near Molly’s Reach, the cafe that the characters on that show hung out at, but I don’t appear to have taken a photo of it (I totally thought I did).

All in all, it was a very nice and relaxing place to visit, which was totally the kind of trip we needed after some very busy and stressful work that both of us have had lately. A++, would Sunshine Coast again!

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Five New Foods, Two Books, and One Hell of a Deadlift

After last year’s pathetic display of accomplishing so few of my goals, I’ve decided to come out of the 2018 gate strong. In fact, I’ve already made 5 new foods/beverages that I’ve never made before (of my goal to make 18 new things year), finished 2 books (of my goal of 18), and deadlifted my body weight!

The foods are:

  • chicken florentine – I had a bunch of spinach I needed to use up, so I picked this recipe.
  • grog – this was the house drink at my birthday party. It was pretty tasty!
  • slow cooker lasagna – made this for my birthday party. I’ve made lasagna a million times before, but never in a slow cooker.
  • kale salad from a recipe from Savio Volpe – Scott took me to Savio Volpe for my birthday and since the reservation said it was my birthday, there was a birthday card waiting on the table and in that card was a recipe for their kale salad. Which is delicious. And which I’ve made several times since then!
  • herbed goat cheese-stuffed chicken thighs – I had a bunch of goat cheese, leftover from my birthday party, that I needed to use up (do you see the trend?), so I google “goat cheese recipes” and found one for stuffing chicken breast with goat cheese that you’ve mixed with herbs. But I did it with chicken thighs. Pretty good stuff.

Making slow cooker lasagna

Making lasagna in the slow cooker

Kale salad

Kale salad

The two books I’ve finished so far in 2018 were:

  • The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined by Steven Pinker – I started reading this massive tome last year and it took me about eleventy billion years to get through it, but I finally did. The gist of the book is that violence has decreased over human history and Pinker puts forward his theory as to why. Often people think that we are living in particularly dangerous times – probably at least in part because we hear about violent events on the news on the time, but that’s actually a skewed perception, as the news covers the most sensational events (If it bleeds, it leads). Overall we are at much less at risk of being a victim of violence than in any other time in human history1 There’s a tonne of data illustrating the decline in violence and we can see it also in what is considered acceptable – e.g., it used to be legal and considered acceptable by society for people to keep slaves, for a man to rape his wife, for parents to beat their children, to people to brutalize animals, for example2. Pinker presents a pretty extensive theory as to why violence has declined and I’m not even going to try to get into describing it all. You’ll just have to read the 800+ pages to find out for yourself!
  • Ready Player One: A Novel by Ernest Cline – {SPOILER ALERT – Don’t read this if you don’t want the book to be spoiled for you!} After reading such a long, dense book, I decided I needed to have a quick and easy read as a bit of a palate cleanser for my brain, and Ready Player One fit the bill. Plus, there’s a movie version of it coming out this year and so I figured I should read it in case I decided to see the movie. I know a lot of people *love* this book, but I thought it was just OK. I mean, I enjoyed reading it but I got the exact same feeling from reading it as I did when I read the DaVinci Code – I was compelled enough by wanting to see how the various puzzles would be solved to keep reading, but the writing is so flat3 that it was kind of a painful, if easy, read. He does a tonne of name dropping of 80s games (game dropping?), movies, and music. Having grown up in the 80s, most of these were familiar to me (especially the movies and music), but the excitement of “hey, I remember that” gets pretty old pretty quick and then it just becomes annoying. And most egregiously, the Deus ex machina of Og showing up to give them a completely impenetrable fortress from which to complete the end of the game was just too much.

And then the one that I’m most excited about: I deadlifted more than my body weight! One of the challenges to doing this was that my body weight has increased due to the muscle mass I’ve put on from all the weight training4. I’d thought I’d lifted my body weight one time last year but then when I got home and weighed myself to confirm, I found that I’d been just shy of my weight.

In this month’s training program, one of my exercises was to do bar bell deadlifts where you start with a weight you can lift for 12 reps, then you up the weight and do 9 reps, then you up the weight again and do 6 reps. Then you start over at 12 reps, but with the weight you used for 9 reps the first time through, then you do 9 reps with the weight you did for 6 reps the first time through, then you do 6 reps at a higher weight. As you can see from my record sheet, on Jan 30, 2018, I did 6 reps of 67.5 kg!

Untitled

Since I’m of the generation of Canadians that still thinks of our body weight in pounds instead of kg, I had to do the conversion to confirm that this was, in fact, more than my body weight:Untitled

And I do, in fact, weight less than 148 lbs, so hooray for me – goal achieved!

  1. Of course, this is not to say that there is no violence or that the violence that does happen is not horrific. []
  2. Again, this is not to say that these things don’t still happen or that they aren’t legal in some societies still today. But they are legal or accepted in far fewer societies today than in the past. []
  3. Full disclosure: I saw the description of the writing in this book as “flat” in a GoodReads review and it totally fit with the feeling I had about the writing that I couldn’t find the right word for, so I totally stole the word! []
  4. Also, it’s kind of cool that after several years of setting, and failing to achieve, a goal of losing the 15 lbs I put on during my MBA (I’d get part way there from half marathon training, but never quite lost it all), I’m now actually happier with my body size despite weighing the most I’ve ever weighed, because it’s all been muscle mass gain. Don’t get me wrong, I still have some fat mass I’d like to lose, but I’ve got some kickass muscles that I’ve never had before! []

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My New Bar Cart

Because of the state of the world, I decided I needed a bar cart. Ok, that’s not actually true. I actually decided I needed a bar cart because my friend Amy has an awesome bar cart and I was super jealous and also because I was sick of storing my booze in a broom closet. I’d been looking for one that would meet my needs1 for a while and finally found one that I liked, and then it went on sale for 50% off and so it was totally a sign that I needed to buy it.

Naturally, the kitties were very eager to help me build it:

Kitties helping me build my bar cart

Watson says, “My claws don’t count as a “sharp” instrument, do they?”

Here are the kitties doing a thorough inspection to make sure all the parts were shipped to us:

It was a little complicated to put together – this is clearly not an IKEA piece, but hopefully that means it will actually last a long time! Thankfully, Scott came over to put it together with me!

And here it is in all its splendour:

My new bar cart

The part at the bottom fits my wine collection as well as some short bottles of booze, like Cointreau and Chambord. The cart doesn’t actually even fit all my booze – well, it would if I put some bottles on the top, but I want to make sure that the cats don’t plan to go up there (so far, they haven’t). For the moment, my lesser used boozes are on the top shelf of my broom closest and the other shelves of the broom closest can now store other stuff. Hooray!

To celebrate, some wine may have been enjoyed:

Watson and a wine bottle

Crick is my dinner companion

  1. Translate: one where I am reasonably confident the cats will not knock over all the bottles. Not that my cats knock things over very often (certainly they break stuff much less often than I do), but I feel like if they were to knock anything over, I wouldn’t want it to be bottles of booze. []

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Beer & Bling Report

Thursday night a few friends and I went to Beer & Bling, an event held at Working Silver, a silversmithing shop, where local jewelry makers were selling their wares while sampling some fine Steel & Oak beer, with beer proceeds going to the Arts Council of New Westminster 1. And I have to say that the turnout was great, both the beer and the jewelry were excellent, and it appeared that lots of both were being sold!
My friend Heather stopped by on her way to dance class, my friends Kim and Cath came in from Vancouver (with poor Cath making an accidental side trip to Surrey because she was on an Expo Line instead of a Millennium Line train2.) and my friend Erin came over from Surrey. Cath did the lion’s share of her Christmas shopping, Kim did a mix of shopping for gifts for others and gifts for herself, and I bought one gift for someone else and a few things for me, and Erin got herself a ring plus a bunch of business cards so she can go check out the artists websites and spend some time deciding what to buy3

I can’t show you what I bought as a present lest the recipient be tipped off, but I can show you what I got for myself!

First I got myself a Christmas tree ornament:

Christmas tree ornament 2015
It a Christmas tree to hang on the Christmas tree. Meta-Christmas, if you will.

And I also treated myself to this necklace and these earrings:

Earrings and necklace

They kind of look like (a) you could do some serious damage with them in a street fight and (b) you could use them to ask Scotty to beam you up.

  1. Full disclosure: I’m on the board of the Arts Council. []
  2. For those of you not from the Vancouver area, the Expo Line and the Millennium Line run the exact same route from Waterfront Station in downtown Vancouver until they get to Columbia Station in New Westminster, at which point Millennium Line loops through New West and Burnaby, and back to Vancouver, whereas Expo Line crosses the river into Surrey. If you are Skytraining just within Vancouver and Burnaby, you don’t need to pay attention to which train you get on, so many a Vancouverite who ventures out into the ‘burbs has found themselves on the wrong Skytrain thinking “omg! Why are we going over a bridge???” []
  3. I don’t think Heather got anything, but I could be wrong. []

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Beer & Bling

I’m stealing this directly off the website of Working Silver, a silversmith who offer silversmithing supplies, classes, and silver jewelry for sale. They are having a Christmas shopping night that is paired with beer drinking, which is also a fundraiser for the Arts Council of New Westminster, a nonprofit organization of which I’m on the board of directors. You should check it out!

BEER & BLING Christmas Shopping Night!

Dec 10th 5-10pm

Sample Craft Beer made by our friends at Steel & Oak and do your Christmas Shopping at the Arts council LOGO same time!  Hand made sterling silver jewellery by local artisans, Jewellery making Classes, and Gift Certificates make wonderful Christmas gifts!!

At the Workingsilver store and teaching studio, we are all about hand made sterling silver jewellery and supporting local artisans.  Partial proceeds from the Beer Tasting will go to the New Westminster Arts Council.

Workingsilver: 131 E Columbia Street, New Westminster

  • Driving: 5 minutes from Hwy 1.  FREE off street parking available behind the building for this event
  • Walking:  5 minute walk from the Sapperton SkyTrain Station
  • Free Parking available behind building after 6pm