Chocolate Babka Go-To Light Sesame Ginger Dressing for The Salad Impaired (Like Me) Filipino Pan De Sal Hiking Like a Rockstar: Eating North Vancouver Edition Versunkener Apfelkuchen (German Sunken Apple Cake) Adventures in South Asian Cookery: Indian Lentil Curry
Chocolate Babka

Chocolate Babka

A stunning bread to brighten up your breakfast table, or your next party.

Go-To Light Sesame Ginger Dressing for The Salad Impaired (Like Me)

Go-To Light Sesame Ginger Dressing for The Salad Impaired (Like Me)

A very simple and delicious salad dressing that can be used with a wide variety of ingredients.

Filipino Pan De Sal

Filipino Pan De Sal

Pan de sal, a Filipino staple, will always remind me of "home".

Hiking Like a Rockstar: Eating North Vancouver Edition

Hiking Like a Rockstar: Eating North Vancouver Edition

Hiking and dining in North Vancouver with friends.

Versunkener Apfelkuchen (German Sunken Apple Cake)

Versunkener Apfelkuchen (German Sunken Apple Cake)

Deceivingly simple traditional German cake that lets your fresh apples shine.

Adventures in South Asian Cookery: Indian Lentil Curry

Adventures in South Asian Cookery: Indian Lentil Curry

Adventures in South Asian Cookery: Indian Lentil Curry

Apples, Windfalls, and an Apple Butter Recipe

There’s an old apple tree in our backyard. It provides much-needed shade from the scorching hot summer days, and blushing apples with a hint of lemon in autumn.


If you like apples as much as we do, I’m sure you’ll understand how we try to harvest as much edible fruit possible, while leaving some for the birds for their pre-winter and winter snacks. Last year we started using a nifty apple picker attached to an adjustable Mr. Long Arm pole and it has changed the quality and quantity of fruits we harvest. Apple-picking has turned into an annual Olympic pole event of sorts, requiring a strong back, precision individual-fruit picking, and lots of practice and patience, with tasty rewards.


Our backyard Spencer apples, a variety which is a cross between a McIntosh and Golden Delicious

Once we hear the regular Thud! Thud! Thud! of fruits landing on the plant boxes, concrete tiles and ceramic table (eep) under the apple tree, we know it’s time to get a-picking. This process takes us at least two weekends to do. There’s only a small window of time between good-weather harvest days and Vancouver’s endless days of rain in the fall, so we were lucky to have time to do it when the skies were blue and the ground was dry.

A glimpse of our late summer skies at sundown.

We had another bumper crop this year, but sadly, our spray-free tree has fallen prey to the codling moth, which means half of the apples were infested. We tried to make the best of what we got.

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We let the little fella have this one to himself.

It felt like such a waste to throw out the damaged ones, so after sorting the apples, I got rid of the unusable portions and washed them thoroughly. The first chopped batch went into making some apple juice and non-alcoholic cider, which is just the apple juice cooked with mulling spices.

Fresh apple juice.

Fresh apple juice that resembles beer.

Some apples were sliced and went into pies. Of course.

Apple pie.

We love apple pie.

Then the chopped ones went into making apple butter. I have never heard of it until I met my dear friend Kristina. One September day in San Francisco we found ourselves sharing a room together for a food bloggers conference. Before that, we knew each other only through our blogs, twitter and email exchanges, but we hit it off and talked like old friends that day. She mentioned that she and her husband made apple butter to give away on their wedding day, and I thought that was so special to make that for wedding guests. I made a mental note of it, but I only started making it last year when we were up to our eyeballs in apple supply.

Spencer apples

Our perfectly imperfect backyard Spencer apples, which are a cross between a McIntosh and Golden Delicious

What is Apple Butter? Apple butter is basically caramelized applesauce. It’s a smooth and luscious apple spread that’s made with apples, spices and a little bit of sugar. It’s important to use flavourful apples. Ours has a nice complexity of sweetness and tartness that really comes together when cooked for a long time, adding to to the sweet caramel finish of the butter.

Last year I made it over the stove and ended up overcooking it and left me with apple leather. After many hours of stirring and checking, it didn’t not end as well as I hoped. This year I cooked smarter, with a slow cooker, which really made it such an easy experience.

Apple butter with Skyflakes -- North American (or German) meets Filipino crackers

The end result was a a smooth and luscious spread that you can eat with toast, crackers, cheese, and whatever you fancy. My favorite combination is saltines, Oak Manor Organic Vintage Cheddar from England, and apple butter. I could live on that for days.

Oh, and by the way, your house will smell amazing while the apple butter cooks.


If you’d like to make your own apple butter in a slow cooker, this is roughly the recipe I used when I used my 4-quart Crockpot:

Makes approximately a liter of apple butter


  • About 4 lbs (OR enough to fill 3/4 of the slow cooker pot) of ripe apples (the more variety, the better), washed, peeled, cored and chopped to 1-inch chunks
  • 1 3/4 cup apple juice, unsweetened (preferably fresh)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (not fresh)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (don’t add the pods in the pot, use it for your jar of sugar instead) OR 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


  1. Place all the ingredients except for the vanilla bean in the slow cooker pot and stir. Cover and turn on to the low setting. Cook for 8 hours, stirring occasionally with a spatula, making sure to scrape the sides–after 2 hours, then after 4 hours wold be good.
  2. Using a stick blender, pulse the apple mixture a few times to your desired smoothness or chunkiness. Stir in bean seeds and cook for another 2 hours or so until you get to the thickness you like. If the apples are really juicy, it may take up to 12 hours to cook. Do remember that it will still get a touch thicker during cooling as well.
    When is the apple butter done? Take a teaspoon of the apple butter and drop it on a small plate. The butter should stay in a mound without any liquid accumulating around the edges.
  3. You can either can it or just store in clean jars or containers. They freeze beautifully and will keep from 3 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.What about adding sugar? The apples used will dictate how sweet the apple butter would be. If it needs to be sweetened to your liking at the end of the 8-hour slow cook, add half of what you think it would need. A couple of tablespoons of sugar should be enough. It shouldn’t be too sweet.


Posted in fruits, healthier choices3 Comments

Ginataang Mais (Coconut Rice Porridge with Corn)

We’ve been on a comfort food kick lately for two reasons: cooler weather and being under the weather. Bowls of congee, ramen, vegetable pasta soup, vegetable curry and traditional Filipino rice
porridge were consumed. You’d think we’ve lost our teeth based on this week’s diet. And then there were many cups of tea in between, too.

Last night we made the curry and had leftover coconut milk, which prompted me to make ginataan, one of my favorite snacks in grade school during the rainy season.  “Ginataan” (pronounce phonetically: gee-na-ta-AHN) basically means cooked in coconut milk. When it comes to sweet coconut rice porridge, it is either made with toasted mung beans (ginataang mungo) or sweet corn (ginataang mais). The former requires a tiny bit more work (and my forgotten skill of toasting raw mung beans without burning them), so I picked corn for simplicity’s sake–we had frozen kernels.

I shared the photo online this afternoon and several people asked for the recipe. It’s very simple, requiring only four ingredients, so I thought I’d quickly share it. You’ll find that you can easily add whatever additional ingredient you like. As alternatives to the traditional flavours, try sweet potato or purple yam chunks and fresh ripe mango (added before serving).

Ginataang Mais (Coconut Rice Porridge with Corn)
Cuisine: Filipino
Active prep time: 
Cooking/Baking time: 
Total hands-on & cooking/baking time: 
Serves: 2 to 4
  • ⅓ cup sticky rice
  • 1⅓ cup water
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup corn
  • ¼ cup sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
  1. Wash rice with tap water. In a medium pot combine rice and water, then heat on med-high until it boils. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add coconut milk, corn and sugar, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly and scraping the sides and bottom of the pan to make sure rice doesn't stick and burn at the bottom. Add more water to suit your preference in consistency. Serve in bowls while warm.


Posted in dessert, Filipino dishes, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, snacks3 Comments

Simple and Easy Corn and Pea Soup

The last few days have certainly felt like a cold tap on the shoulder reminding me that summer is almost over. Yesterday morning I found myself reaching for a wrap to keep me warm while I checked on our vegetable garden before work. [I hate transitioning from zombie-like mode to work mode when I’m cold.]

While I like eating corn and peas fresh (they’re sweet!), it’s comforting to have them in a steaming bowl of soup to welcome the change in season. And that I did. I’ve been cooking less on the grill and utilizing the kitchen stove again — another indicator of the cooling temperature in the evenings.

Fresh peas from the farmer's market

Fresh peas from the farmer’s market

We’re so very lucky to have an amazing array of fresh ingredients throughout the year, and it’s not hard to make wonderful dishes from them with just a few additions.

Fresh peas and shucked Okanagan peaches and cream corn

Fresh peas and kernels of peaches and cream corn from the Okanagan

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Posted in healthier choices, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy, soups, vegetables, vegetarian3 Comments

Late Night Cravings: Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I get a lot of random late night cravings, anything from cherry clafoutis and fresh homemade margarita, down to the basics like fudge brownies. Alone in the house one night, going through unanswered emails, I had the strongest need for chocolate chip cookies. I had to stop what I was doing and bake some stat.


I make different kinds all the time, but I tend to favor this recipe because the resulting cookies remind me of the palm-sized ones you grab from bakeries right before you pay–you just couldn’t resist getting them. Comfort me with big, chewy mouthfuls of chocolate goodness, please.


I almost forgot to tell you that it takes under an hour to make and you don’t need any special equipment — just your able arms and a good-sized bowl and trusty spatula. It’s just perfect for those last-minute cravings.

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Posted in baking, cookies, dessert, quick & easy0 Comments

Chasing Cheese: A Taste of the Canadian Cheese Rolling Cheddar

You might have heard of the unusual cheese rolling tradition that’s been going on for hundreds of years in Brockworth, Gloucester. Well, we have our very own Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival, too, and it’s coming up (or should I say, rolling down) in Whistler this weekend. Instead of chasing a 9-lb double Gloucester like the one used in England, Canadian Cheese Rolling participants will be chasing a hefty 11-lb Courtenay Cheddar made by Natural Pastures.

Cheese Rolling Race at Whistler, BC

Cheese Rolling Race at Whistler, BC  |  Photo: Dairy Farmers of Canada

What: 7th Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival with lots of fun activities for the whole family:

Cheese rolling races for ages 19+ (7 men’s and 4 women’s events, plus finals)
Costume contest
Uphill races by age (for kids)
Free cheese seminars
Cheese Market with lots of Canadian cheese samples made from 10% Canadian milk

When: Saturday, August 16th 12nn to 4pm (Registration for the cheese rolling is at 11:00am)

Where: Whistler, BC

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Posted in cheese, events0 Comments

Fraser Valley Slow Food Cycling Weekend in Chilliwack

It’s that time of the year again when bicycles are getting their fair amount of use. For most casual riders, it’s the perfect time to go on leisurely rides after work or during the weekend (farmers market trips, anyone?).

Fraser Valley Slow Food Cycle Tour

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you would have noticed that I’ve caught the cycling bug, thanks to the beau. He gifted me with a city bike two years ago and then talked me into investing in a good road bike last year.  One of the fun things we did after I picked up my new road bike (yay, much better on hills!) last summer was going on the Fraser Valley Slow Food Cycling Tour.

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Posted in travel0 Comments

Once Upon a Crabby Feast

The Alaskan King Crab season is over and done with and here I am reminiscing this delicious crustacean. Pardon me while I post this so I’ll remember what to order next time, and be able to compare as well. Due to busy schedules and spring break with the fam, I only attended/organized one king crab feast this year, compared to a whopping three (!!!) in 2013. I saved two crabs this year.

Last month, thirteen friends gathered around the biggest table at Red Star Seafood Restaurant in Vancouver on a Monday, after work. We ordered the heaviest crab available, a modest ten-pounder. [You can call ahead to reserve not only the table, but the crab with specified weight and other dishes, like the  baked tapioca dessert.]


They even put a pen beside it to give food pornographers some scale. They are used to everyone taking photos.

We met, inspected and took photos of our ocean friend before giving the thumbs up to the server to prepare it four-ways:

  • steamed legs,
  • deep fried knuckles,
  • noodles with juices from the steam legs, and
  • Portuguese curry rice.

It’s common to order the size of the king crab according to how many people would be served, which would be at least a pound per person.  Because we ordered a lot of other dishes, our ten-pounder was more than enough for all of us. Another good reason to bring a troop of eaters, aside from getting a chance to see many friends together for a meal (and meet new ones they bring along to the feast),  it presents a fantastic opportunity to order more dishes than what you would usually order if you’re just a group of four. Everyone just needs uphold their duty to be hungry enough for the meal. I, for one, ate a light lunch. This is serious eating.

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Posted in dining, seafood0 Comments

Effortless Anytime Fruit Crumble

I wasn’t the type of person who kept frozen fruits in the freezer. A firm believer of eating everything fresh, I just bought what’s in season at the farmer’s markets. Shakes or smoothies weren’t my ‘thing’ either, preferring to masticate on my fruits and veggies to fill me up because I tend to snack throughout the day. It wasn’t until I lived with a smoothie-loving frozen fruit-stocking partner that I realized what I had been missing.

While I (still) rarely reach for a shock of cold fruit drink, except for two scorching-hot summer days every year, I appreciate those bags of frozen fruits now. They satisfy any last-minute cravings for fruit pies, especially for out-of-season fare. Whenever everyone in our household would have the patience to wait for a couple of hours, I would make pie–double crust and all– or tart, but a quicker substitute for our dessert-/sweets-loving family is this go-to simple crumble. This minimal-effort snack, dessert or breakfast treat requires only these 3 easy steps:

  1. Toss the fruits in sugar and flour. [I add a pinch of ground cinnamon and nutmeg sometimes.]
  2. Top with a layer of easy-mix crumble.
  3. Bake for half an hour or so. Do something else.

Then eat!

We love having this for dessert and I usually prepare this right after dinner. While it’s baking, the girls either do homework and we’ll catch up on some reading (or knitting) or we’ll play board game if it’s a non-school night. Easy peasy.

Berry Crumble

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Posted in baking, breakfast, brunch, dessert, fruits, original Gourmeted recipe, quick & easy4 Comments

Change, Rituals and a Go-To Recipe for Pate Brisee

Last Monday was Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year, according to a publicity campaign from a travel company. This pseudoscience was based on a formula including factors such as weather conditions, debt level (i.e. debt from the holidays, I assume vs ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action. Needless to say this is rubbish. Any day could be really bad for anyone, just as it could go stupendously well for another.

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Ground frost from our New Year’s Day walk in the park.

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Posted in baking, cheese, Meatless Monday, tarts, vegetables, vegetarian0 Comments

Welcoming the New Year and a Recipe for Banana bread with Pecan Streusel

How is it that we’re more than halfway through January? The three-week stretch before the holidays felt like the longest and slowest marathon of parties, get-togethers, preparation, shopping and errands and then Boom! time moves in lightning speeds.

It was lovely to spend some relaxing time with our loved ones once the flurry of pre-Christmas stuff settled down. The beau’s brother and his girlfriend flew in for the holidays, so it was quite a treat to have the entire family around the table on Christmas Eve. I remember when we were kids, my cousins and I were too eager and impatient for everybody to show up so we could eat then open our gifts. As an adult, one thinks about how to keep the kids preoccupied so we can enjoy each other’s company in peace. On the beau’s side, the girls are old enough that they engage in our conversations–they have very interesting things to say! We don’t have to give them toys and talk over the noise of their toys! Ha. On my side, my nephews are four and five, living and breathing dinosaurs, Transformers and Angry Birds.  They can be really blunt and honest, which make gift-opening around the tree hilarious. You never really know how they’d react or what they would say. Oh, I don’t like that!  [My gifting success average has been great so far when it comes to them. I pick items based on what I would like if I was a kid. Now what does that say about me?] Christmas reminds me of how fun it was to be very young and carefree, but then I’m glad I can sit back and appreciate the comfort of, and being with, family.

Living in a beautiful city–a prime winter destination at that–means getting a chance to repeatedly explore it like tourists whenever friends and family visit. The beau and his brother love skiing so a day trip to Whistler during their short stay was a no-brainer. Vancouver being Vancouver, it did take a bit of wrestling with weather scheduling, but in the end one should just go and prepare for the worst. It wasn’t a great snow day for our skiing companions, but the rest of us who roamed the village and took the leisurely gondola ride between Whistler and Blackcomb didn’t have much to complain about the view and the powder.


Whistler Mountain, by the Peak To Peak gondola


View from Blackcomb Mountain

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Posted in baking, bread, brunch, cakes, coffee buddy, dessert, quick & easy2 Comments