Bread Around the World: Char Siu Bao

It’s a new year, according to the Lunar Calendar, the Year of the Snake.  Since any new years is traditionally a time of new beginnings, it seems a great time to introduce a feature on international breads.  I am very fortunate in that my city is home to a world class China Town with some beyond excellent cuisine.  My Kung Fu Sifu always said he preferred the Chinese food here to his native Hong Kong.  Any time I’m in China Town and feeling peckish I always hit up New Town Bakery for one of their steamed buns, the most popular of which is Char Siu Bao, probably more commonly known as BBQ Pork Buns.  Used to be the thought of missing out on these and other Dim Sum staples was enough to deter even the thought of moving out of Vancouver.  Fortunately I have since learned much and can make my own buns to rival those of New Town’s.  They’re not too hard to make, can easily be frozen and enjoyed later, be microwaved or steamed and are damn near irresistible. Continue reading

A Thanksgiving Twist

It was Thanksgiving last weekend here in the Great White North.  Tradition normally dictates turkey, but personally I prefer to roast duck for the holidays.  So that was the plan and while shopping for dinner I came across a sale on prickly pears.  As I was peckish I grabbed one for a snack.  Cutting into it I was immediately struck by the gorgeous colour.  It’s been a while since I’ve had prickly pear and had all but forgotten what it’s like. Continue reading

Five Dollar Meals I: Indroduction Pie

A few years ago I was contracted for an unusual teaching job.  There was this twelve year old who was interested in swordplay and his mother also wanted me to teach him to cook, so I was hired for both.  I’m not going to comment much on the exact situation, as I doubt I could do it diplomatically.  I will say, however, that I wish the mother had pushed her son a little harder to keep at it.  He enjoyed it once we got going but convincing this kid that cooking was worth his time was an exercise in patience and stoicism.  The funny thing is I recognize the exact personality trait that would have had to be overcome.  I have taught kids in the past who lacked motivation to take initiative for themselves but once pushed they almost universally enjoy themselves.  Some kids at that age need to be pushed and most parents seem to realize this.

Anyway, time to get to the point.  Cooking is something that I consider to be an essential life skill.  I knew the basics of cooking before I left the nest and always did at least a little when first living on my own.  Due to lack of knowledge and a limited budget  I too often fell back on cheap packaged meals.  When you start buying the cheaper knock-off version of Kraft Dinner, it’s time to admit you have a problem. Continue reading