Fish and chips that tickle

Fish and chips that tickle

… our fancy, that is. Yes, we may just have found a fish and chips joint that we can wrap our fussy lil tastebuds around. We’ve been trying to sniff out an alternative source to the amazing fish and chips we loved so much in Vancouver, Canada!

But sadly, that’s been a long and disappointing road and we’ve been hard-pressed to find anything that comes even close. This new fish and chips joint we found recently – well, it’s pretty good as fish and chips go, but no-ot nea-arly as good.

Still I guess we’re happy we have a place to satisfy the occasional craving for decent fish and chips. But to match the one we know and love, this batter would have to be a lot lighter and crispier, and it would have to be served with a huge heap of light tangy coleslaw. Unfortunately, it doesn’t!

Fish and chips that tickle

Ah, but that’s the thing about eating out, isn’t it? You can’t always have what you want and you can’t always have everything you like on it. You just eat what they serve you, then pay and leave. Hopefully the tab doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket as it oftentimes does, just that few like to admit they got ripped off.

Frankly, if fish and chips didn’t involve the oily business of deep-frying, I might be tempted to try it at home. But you know me, and you know how much I cherish an arm workout from the cleanup that comes afterwards. So yeah!

I guess we’ll continue to reminisce about the little fish and chips shop in Vancouver that we used to visit every week, sometimes a few times a week because it was within walking distance from where we lived, and their fish and chips is undisputedly the best.

Whenever the chef saw us file in past the open kitchen, he never failed to wave, smile and double up our order. If we ordered 2 pieces of fish, the waitress would bring us 4 and we’d be like, umm but! Only there were no buts with this guy. He obviously loved us and our business, and the strangest thing was, he wasn’t even the owner!

After a 15-minute walk in the wet, freezing winter, that hot-off-the-fryer fish and coffee was truly something we looked forward to. The fish was always fresh and crispy beyond crispy. We could have unlimited cups of coffee to warm ourselves up, and ya, we knew everyone there and ya, we miss you, guys!!!

Flipping pumpkin pancakes

Flipping pumpkin pancakes

We’re having pumpkin pancakes for lunch today. Now that Halloween is over and those cute little pumpkins

Flipping pumpkin pancakes

have disappeared from the promotional aisle, I guess it’s time to do some other stuff with pumpkins. One night after dinner, we slapped together a big bowl of pancake batter (gorgeous color that!) and the next afternoon, I was flipping pumpkin pancakes.

Flipping pumpkin pancakes

Ironically, it was pumpkin pie that I first fell in love with back in college. But since I am lazy and haven’t figured out yet how to bake a pumpkin pie, I’m best leaving it to the pro’s. For $5.99, I can pick up a huge ready-to-eat pumpkin pie at the store any day. If not for the fact that it’d probably take me a month to finish eating the whole thing by myself, that might not be such a bad idea.

But for now, I’m sticking to what I know – pumpkin pancakes which we all agree is a terrific lunch idea. Making my own pancakes means I get to be boss of my pancakes. I like being boss. Can you tell? *wink*

Flipping pumpkin pancakes

Frankly, I’m not that hard to please. I want my pancakes thin, not thick. In stacks, not singles. With honey, not maple syrup. With butter, lots of butter, not any number of the needless stuff piled on to achieve a premium effect.

Flipping pumpkin pancakes

And I want my pancakes made with real pumpkin, not pumpkin flavoring or powder or whatever it is that you can’t confirm is in there. And with that, I’m off to make my pumpkin pancakes. See you later, guys!

Indigestion, disappointment and pork ribs

Indigestion, disappointment and pork ribs

What a week this has been! Had indigestion and lost my appetite Tuesday night. Woke up the next morning to nausea and a huge tummy upset. For sure, it wasn’t what I had for dinner. More like something toxic was in the air.

Well, I’m sorely disappointed that my appetite’s been slow to return. The weather report says the air quality is at its worst and won’t be improving any time soon. I figured if I was going to snap out of my misery, a well-deserved comfort dinner is just the thing I need.

See these gorgeous pork ribs? This was dinner last night.

Indigestion, disappointment and pork ribs

We picked up this ready-to-eat rack of ribs off the shelf and carted it home, reheated it when we were ready to eat, mashed some potatoes and plated some veggies, and that was dinner right there. Go Cali!

Indigestion, disappointment and pork ribs

These ribs were moist, juicy and flavorful but not fall-off-the-bone tender. In other words, perfection and exactly how ribs should taste.

Indigestion, disappointment and pork ribs

What’s the point of eating ribs if all the meat came off the bone and you’re left eating just the meat? Then you might as well be eating a piece of steak. Half the fun of eating ribs is being able to hold the bone like a caveman woman and strip the meat off it with your teeth. That’s the way you do it. Anyone else with me on this?

Not an apple lover but

Not an apple lover but

Not an apple lover? That’s me. Not from lack of trying though. It’s not easy. Like many of you, I grew up being reminded often that apples are good for you. But as fruits go, I find apples to be incredibly boring, not just in looks but also in taste. Of the ones I’ve eaten, the tart outnumber the sweet by a wide margin and they make me cringe, especially the green ones.

Last week, to make up our weekly fruit quota, I bought some apples. I wouldn’t have otherwise but ya! 3 Fuji’s and 5 Red Delicious. The Fuji’s were okay but the Reds – big mistake! They were huge, shiny and deep red like the ones Snow White’s stepmother would be proud to fish out of her grubby old bag. I mean, stuff can look pretty on the outside but it’s not until you get under their skin that you find the poison, eh?

And so it was with the Red apple. They were positively the hardest apples to peel, and I mean that literally. If peeling them was hard, cutting them was even harder. Once I got my knife in there, pulling it out is like reenacting Excalibur, if you know what I mean. What kind of apples are these anyways?!! Steel??!!

After one Red, I was ready to give up my apple cutting career and move on to juicing. I did save a few slices though for a taste comparison against the Fuji. Verdict: The Fuji is easier to peel and cut, and is crunchy and mildly sweet 7/10. The Red tastes powdery and meh 3/10 but for some strange reason, its juice is surprisingly sweet and such a pretty shade of light greenish yellow.

Not an apple lover but

I wasn’t sure what to do with the remaining 4 Reds. I wasn’t even in the mood to think about them. After a few days, I mustered up enough energy to go into another round of apple hacking cutting and ended up dumping the whole lot into a pot to cook. Then I banished them to the freezer, not to be seen again till I could figure what do do. Two days later, lightning struck and this apple crumble pie was born.

Not an apple lover but

I like the idea of apple pies. It has such a wholesome ring to it. But I’m also very wary of the signature tartness of the final product. So while I’m okay with baking an apple pie, if it turns out tart, the people who say “but apple pies are supposed to be tart” better eat it all up.

While I was cooking the apples, I licked the wooden spoon and they were surprisingly sweet, just like the juice. Even without a single grain of added sugar, the filling was oozing with natural sweetness. That’s when I knew my apple crumble pie was going to be a winner. And it was! Bon appetit to me! I don’t like apples but I freakin’ love this pie!

Not an apple lover but

The outback on a slice of bread

The outback on a slice of bread

There are days when my weekday lunch could be as simple as buttering a slice of bread, not with your regular old butter, mind you, but with this nut butter, a gift from a friend. No one else in the Hip household cares for it. But I like it. Lucky me! This whole bottle is mine, all mine!

The outback on a slice of bread

This nut butter is kinda interesting. It reminds me of the barren Australian outback, all brown and peppered with bushes and boulders. I think that’s what it was but I slept through the entire 10-hour drive, so all I remember is a flash of brown.

So this nut butter, made with 7 nuts and seeds – cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, flax seeds, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds, is essentially the outback on a slice of multigrain bread. It’s creamy yet crunchy and peppered with coarsely chopped nuts. I mean, how else can I explain this without making it sound like ‘the bush’? I can’t. See? That’s what I mean.

The outback on a slice of bread

So there I was peeking into the bottle and thinking before I even tasted it, hey, maybe this could use a little regular butter on top of the nut butter. Huh?!! Seriously, what was I thinking? This ain’t jam, it’s butter with a ton of nuts in it, so why the heck does it need more butter? I have no idea.

All I know is that butter has this gravitational pull that I find impossible to resist. It makes these cute little blob-by faces at me and sucks me in till I go, okay, maybe just a little. Except just a little is never just a little. It usually ends up being one big blob and then, woah, the waistline is history!

So okay, forget the regular butter. I’ll just enjoy the scant sweetness and full-bodied nuttiness which is what makes this 7-nut butter so good. And that, for me, is a simple lunch with a cup of hot coffee to complement it, weather permitting.

(And for anyone who is wondering: No, I’m not getting paid to write this. Just to be clear, this bottle of nut butter is a gift from a friend.)

Birth of a kimchi pancake

Birth of a kimchi pancake

We were looking through old food photos and recounting the hot favorites at our weekly Korean restaurant. “Omg, that kimchi pancake looks so-oo yummy I wanna eat it right now,” Hip2bDaughter2 cries, threatening to print out the photo and eating it! No-oo-ooo!

Seems like we’ve all fallen in love with Korean pancakes at various points of our frequent Korean eat-outs. I mean, what’s not to love? They’re savory and crispy, very delicious, totally addictive. Problem is I have no freakin’ idea how to make a Korean pancake. I tried to once but that pancake fell apart on me and that was it, I said, no more homemade pancakes!

But here’s the thing, whenever my kids mention something they like to eat, I’d either take them out to eat it or I’ll cook it for them, even if it means having to learn how. That’s the kind of mom I am, and this is exactly what happened here.

Spurred on by those sad puppy eyes and the success of my homemade bibim-naengmyeon, I figured heck, I got this! Time to roll up those non-existent sleeves and dive straight into the batter. There’s no looking back now. And that’s how my first successful kimchi pancake came about.

Birth of a kimchi pancake

I wasn’t sure what to expect so I whispered to the pancake as it sizzled in the pan. “Don’t fall apart on me, don’t fall apart on me!” That apparently did the trick and my pancake turned out perfect and so delicious.

“Tastes just like the one we ate at …,” sings Hip2bDaughter2 happily. And that was the encore which got me making another kimchi pancake for dinner that night…

Birth of a kimchi pancake

… and another two more for lunch the next day which we gobbled up like savages while they were hot and crispy. Man, I gotta say this kimchi pancake was something else. It tasted authentic, is what I meant to say. It transported us right back to our weekly pa jeon sans the 700% markup. Score!

Working weekend

So there we are, wildly navigating the weekend mall crowd, trying to avoid body slamming any of the ten thousand people, faces buried in cellphones, walking straight into us, or trampling on random 2-year-olds toddling out of the woodwork. I honestly have a lot of trouble with this.

So when I hear someone mention the word lunch, I practically jump for joy. It’s only temporary relief, I know, but at least I can park myself somewhere…

… and put myself to good use! What, work on a weekend, you ask?! Let me explain.

At my girl friend’s suggestion, we wind up at a restaurant that I’ve passed by a million times without stopping. The place is always crowded but as you know, I’m not in the habit of assuming long lines mean good food. Umm, not necessarily.

We walk in. I’m not sure if we’re shown to our table or if we seated ourselves. Probably seated ourselves LOL. I’m not sure. I was distracted by the overpowering smell of pork in this place. We sit down and peruse the copies of menus strewn haphazardly across each table.

There’s the usual back and forth about what’s good here and my friend names a few things I should try, fried rice among them. Oh, and dumblings. Then she grabs pencil and order form, hands them to me and says, “Let’s fill this up”, and I’m like, “Oh, they make you work before they serve you, eh? Great concept!”

Okay so the customer has to fill out an order form, then wave like a marooned sailor to catch the attention of a willing passing server to pick up the form and send it along to the kitchen. Oh that’s right, I recall entering my order into a tablet at a couple of swankier places.

As we sit anticipating the arrival of lunch, I look around and imagine the food here must be pretty out of this world. I mean, if so many people are willing to line up and work for their lunch, there must be something special about this place. Here’s the spoiler: their food is meh! 맛덦어요 종말!

The server stops by with our bowls of noodles and dumplings just long enough to plonk everything at the edge of the table, then makes a quick getaway. Oh, more work, I see!?! Gotta give those biceps a workout before lunch, y’know! Like all good customers, we distribute the bowls between us, then help ourselves to the eating utensils sprouting from a stand nearby.

I look around the room and everyone is their weekend selves, including the wait staff. people are chatting happily away and having a good time. No one seems to be complaining. Well, I shouldn’t either. I should be lucky they aren’t hustling me off to the kitchen to cook my own noodles and steam my own dumplings!

Soon we’re done eating, chatting and fighting over who’s going to pay. Somewhere in the back of my mind, a giant question mark is popping up. Is there more work waiting for us? And bam, what do you know? My friend picks up the order form, physically transports it to the cashier’s desk and proceeds to hand over her hard-earned money, service charges and all.

You mean, all this time, I’ve been fooling myself into thinking that dining at a full service restaurant means I’m paying someone to cook and serve me without me having to lift a single finger? Haha, silly me!

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