If I could just save ONE banana…

We’ve all been there, watching that one banana get freckles, promising to take it for lunch, forgetting about it, swearing to eat it for breakfast, but by now it’s getting a tan and the thought of making banana bread is intolerable, but you don’t want it to go to waste or spawn a cloud of fruit flies… So what to do?

Banana Rescue Recipe:

Cinnamon Caramel Banana Sauce

In a non stick skillet over medium heat, add a little butter (1-2 tsp) and one daringly ripe banana, sliced or diced. Sprinkle with 2-3 TBS sugar and 1-2 tsp cinnamon. The moisture of the banana will meld with the sugar, so it may not be necessary to add liquid. Stir and let the caramelly magic happen. Lower the heat and let the sauce thicken a bit, then remove it from the heat and add a tablespoon of cream or evaporated milk if you want a richer sauce.

Save half to add to oatmeal or a smoothie for breakfast. Pour the other half over a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a delicious treat tonight.

Makes about 2 servings or one very generous one.


Pineapple-Orange Upside-Down Cake

This cake came about because of ripe pineapples on sale at the produce store. Golden (not green) and fragrant, so ready to eat, but I had way more pineapple than I needed. I also had some oranges that were not getting any younger, so why not experiment with flavors? What to do? Smoothies? Muffins? Cake!

Fresh fruit makes a world of difference here. Ripe sweet pineapple marries so well with the brown sugar glaze, and the cake is moist and delicious, soaking in the fruity juices and rich sugar. Wonderful with whipped cream.

My first attempt was really quite successful as far as taste goes, but some of the fruit stuck to the pan when I flipped it, so it was kinda messy looking. No biggie . . . Sissy knew how to fix that.

Keep your cake from sticking to the pan:

Cut a parchment paper to fit the pan you are using. Grease the pan with a tiny bit of butter or shortening (enough to help the paper stick well), lay the paper in, and smooth it out.

Put the cake together as usual (butter and brown sugar, then the fruit, then the batter). When you flip it over after baking, gently peel off the parchment and voilá! Perfectly pretty pineapple upside-down cake.

Pineapple-Orange Upside-Down Cake

4 Tbs butter (melted)
1/2 cup brown sugar
fresh pineapple rings
A few raspberries (cherries are classic)

1/3 cup shortening (or softened butter)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup coconut flakes
1/4 tsp salt
Juice of 2 oranges +1 TBS orange zest

Peel, core, and slice the pineapple into rings.

Preheat oven (350° F) and line the bottom of a 9×9 pan with parchment paper.

Pour melted butter in pan and tilt to coat evenly. Mix 1/2 of the orange zest with brown sugar; sprinkle it over melted butter in the pan. Lay pineapple slices in rows, and add decorative  raspberries in the center of each ring.

Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and coconut  in a  bowl. In another bowl, mix shortening, sugar, vanilla, and egg until combined, then add dry ingredients. Add orange juice and remaining zest and mix well.

Pour batter into pan, covering the fruit to edges of pan.

Bake at 350° for 45 minutes.

Let the cake cool briefly, then carefully flip it onto a plate. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the sides of the cake. Place a plate upside down on top of the pan, use potholders to grip the plate and pan together, then turn it upside down. Lift the pan and remove the parchment paper from the cake.

Give it a sprinkle of Gran Marnier for a deliciously boozy boost.

Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

True Confessions of an Urban Hillbilly

When I get homesick, I like to have a fried baloney sandwich on white bread with a glass of red wine.

Summer bliss is picking a bucketful of blackberries in 95° heat with humidity so we can eat cobbler with vanilla ice cream after dinner while we watch fireflies and bats dance in the twilight gloaming.

I like being barefoot in the kitchen, but mind you, I can swing a mean frying pan.

I blame my inner turmoil on being related to both the Hatfields and the McCoys.

Shoes off inside, please. Don’t come trackin’ dirt through the house!

Happiness is sitting on the porch swing during a thunder and lightning extravaganza at 6AM when my sister hands me a plate full of breakfast: crispy bacon, fluffy scrambled eggs, and buttery sourdough toast.


This post was written in 2012, framing a moment in time. Life happened. At the end of 2019, I sat in the ruins of my broken life, and like a phoenix from the ashes I was determined to rise. Then Covid-19 happened. Here in a viral epicenter alone (with my cats), I am prone to reflection and introspection. 2020 is a time to practice patience, perseverance, compassion, and kindness.

~ Also, please wash your hands. ~


T-Shirt Giraffe

I was out on a thrift store safari, looking for nothing in particular, when a zazzy yellow t-shirt screamed at me from the rack, “MAKE ME A GIRAFFE!”

Challenge accepted.

Prepare to meet your maker.

Prepare to meet your maker.















Generally the construction is okay, but it needs tweaks so he stands like I want him to and the shape doesn’t register as “long necked horse.” I really need to mind the seam allowance, maybe pin things a bit better and mark them… all that fiddly stuff that gets tossed by the wayside when I’m sewing by the seat of my pants.


Some say the giraffe got its very long neck from eating too many magic herbs.

The back gusset worked out alright, though it needs to be longer, and I like the shape of the back leg at the hock. I had to do a lot of messy suturing to pull his legs under him. Refining the shape of the inside leg panel should fix that. I thought about beady eyes, but found buttons instead. My favorite thing is his scrap fabric mane and the tail cut from a seam. I could nitpick about it more, but the bottom line is, he’s still a pretty awesome giraffe.


Yeah, I bake in the summer. I’m in the kitchen, takin’ the heat!

Fresh baked Ginger Molasses and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies.


Craft score at the thrift store

Hoping for a little crafty inspiration from thrift shop loot.

The cookbook has that nuclear family flavor, with party perfect recipes that will make the neighbours green with envy… or something. I’m sure the Sauerkraut Surprise Cake is to die for.

A piece of grey striped fabric with a velvety surface caught my attention, and a wacky yellow shirt that screamed at me from the rack, “I want to be a giraffe!” How could I refuse?


A nice pile of threads:


Luscious Vegan Chocolate Raspberry Mousse

Oh, you better believe I was skeptical about this one. I never pass on chocolate, but c’mon… chocolate tofu? Ew, I dunno. I’ve never been a big fan of tofu or soy products, but exploring Eastern cuisines helped me to accept it and occasionally enjoy it. Now, I’m learning to cook with it. Welcome to my kitchen, tofu.

vegan chocolate raspberry mousse dessert

There are no eggs, cream, or butter in this dessert, yet it is fluffy, creamy, and quite pleasant on the palate. Maple syrup is the primary sweetener (use the real thing), along with raspberry jam and some melted chocolate to make it extra rich. Seriously, if you don’t tellem it’s tofu no one will guess.

Vegan Chocolate Raspberry Mousse

  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 2 TBS Cocoa
  • 1/2 C (melted & cool) Chocolate Chips
  • Dash of Almond Extract
  • 2 300ml packs of SOFT TOFU (about a pound)
  • 3 TBS Raspberry Jam
  • 3-4 TBS Maple Syrup
  • Fresh Raspberries

Let the tofu come to room temperature. Gently melt the chocolate chips (use very low heat or microwave) then blend in the olive oil and cocoa powder. Set aside to cool.

Whip the tofu, raspberry jam, almond extract, and maple syrup until smooth and fluffy. Stir in the chocolate mixture and a big handful of fresh raspberries. Chill thoroughly before serving.

*NOTE: This makes yummy frozen popcicles!

Vancouver Streetfood: Roaming Dragon Pan-Asian

I love streetfood: tasty, no fuss, eat-it-while-u-walk snacks that make my tummy happy without breaking my budget. I especially love the kind of streetfood that’s more than just a snack, it’s a real treat. The sight of a quality streetfood vendor should provoke the same kind of primitive Pavlovian response as the sound of the Ice Cream Man and make me come runnin’ with a handful of loonies. Gingerman and I have found exactly that vendor.

Four Little Dishes = One Great Meal

The Roaming Dragon is like a tapas bar on wheels. They offer a selection of fresh, fun, Asian-fusion goodies that go beyond preconceived notions of “food cart” cuisine. We spotted the truck visiting Kits Point near Arbutus and Whyte, and they have made appearances at Vancouver Farmers Markets. We selected 3 dishes for $15 and took advantage of their “Dragonista” twitter promo for a free Lychee Lemonade. Great deal!

Connect with Roaming Dragon for up-to-date locations and info!

Twitter     @Dragontruck
Website    www.roamingdragon.com
Facebook  www.facebook.com/DragonTruck

Things we love @ Roaming Dragon:

  • EVERYTHING! The flavours are there, man!
  • Perfect portions for a snack or light lunch.
  • 2-3 items + Lychee Basil Lemonade = a nice picnic for two.
  • Soba Noodles are vegetarian, and tofu can sub for duck in confit salad.

Lychee Basil Lemonade ~ Cool, tart, sweet, and refreshing.

Nice twist on a summertime standard. Basil is related to mint, and adding it to the mix was brilliant. The drink has unexpected texture, with little chunks of lychee swimming around, and is served with a wide straw. Personally, I’m not a big fan of lychee, but Gingerman liked the drink so much we came back later and bought a second one.

Duck Confit Salad ~ Savory, melt-in-your-mouth duck confit served warm on a bed of young green things with little chunks of pineapple and watermelon.

I loved the addition of watermelon. It gave a completely different contrast in texture and flavour than the pineapple, and both fruits make good company for duck. As a whole, it was nicely balanced and not too sweet. Requires a fork or chopsticks (if you’re the civilized sort).

Short Rib Tacos ~ Korean style shortrib cradled in a tiny soft taco with a little nori, some greens, carrots, and bean sprouts.

Nicely spiced sort of East meets West take on tacos el pastor. This was the dish I most wanted to try, and it was a NUMMY success!

Rice Balls ~ Crispy fried balls of fried rice.

I know, it sounds deadly, but taste was the payoff. The coating was crispy and quite thin, just doing its job at holding the rice in shape. The rice was a little creamy, with an aroma of 5-spice and the taste of soy in the background. On top, a little drizzle of golden sauce with hints of curry—yum!

*Pork Belly Sliders ~ Tender morsel of pork, thin-sliced cucumber, tasty sauce, soft bun.

Char Siu Bau magically transformed into a dim-sum slider! Skeptical at first, I took one bite and was hooked. Ingenious and delicious.

*NOTE: I confess, when Gingerman listed options from the menu, pork belly was not my first pick. I’ve had a few bad experiences with greasy, chewy pork belly at restaurants, and didn’t want to spend our dough on the possibility of disappointment. However, after we paid for our main order, the hubs let slip that I was planning to blog about the food, and Dragontruck threw in the sliders gratis. I thank them from the bottom of my stomach. Totally loved them!

Hapa Izakaya: small plates, big taste.

It was a patio evening in Kitsilano: the sun had just slipped behind Bowen Island, the breeze was slow and cool, and we’d had a busy day. Time for some “tapanese” food and sake at Hapa Izakaya!

Small Plates at Hapa Izakaya by Bill Stillwell

An izakaya is a sit-down sake shop, rather like a Japanese pub. The servers are quick and pleasant, and soon enough, someone places a tall slice of bamboo on our table, chilled and full of cold sake. Conversation is easy. There is no talk of work or responsibilities.

We refill each other’s little bamboo cups full as the plates arrive. The food is fresh and not overly complicated, delighting the eye and pleasing the palate. Halfway through the bamboo tube of sake, we’re full of easy smiles and laughter. The plates come and go, until dessert and a cocktail round out our evening. The chocolate caramel mousse is a little piece of heaven. I feel unwound, relaxed, and happy. The breezy summer weather is perfect for a seaside stroll, so we take the long way home.

About Hapa Izakaya:

Lea and Justin Ault introduced Hapa Izakaya to Vancouver diners in 2003. Now, three locations offer a variety of scrumptious Japanese tapas, plus cocktails, beer, wine, and premium sake. The decor is simple and clean, and the atmosphere is casual, with plenty of intimate tables for two. Interior seating can easily accomodate groups—perfect for sharing a little bit of everything.

Robson, Kitsilano, and Yaletown Hapa locations are open from 5:30 PM to 1 AM on Friday/Saturday and until midnight from Sunday to Thursday.

Website: http://hapaizakaya.com
Twitter: @hapaizakaya

Prices are reasonable, the sake selection is excellent, and the food has never disappointed me. There’s always something good on the Fresh Sheet menu—go when BC Spot Prawns are in season if you can! New things are fun, but I must always have the Ebi Mayo or Negitoro and a Harajuku Girl.

Harajuku Denizens by Jacob Ehnmark

I did not take snapshots of my meal, but you can see lovely pictures of several dishes and the restaurant interiors at Hapa’s online photo gallery. Lately, I find that taking pictures of food at a restaurant detracts from my enjoyment of the meal, so I quit doing it. All the fussiness of photography is distracting when really I just want to eat, drink, and have a good time.

things we love @ HAPA

  • Sake ~ served chilled in a bamboo tube pitcher
  • Harajuku Girl ~ Vodka, Sourpuss Raspberry, Butter Ripple Schnapps, Calpis, soda
  • Ebi Mayo ~ crisp, fat, juicy prawns tossed in spicy mayo
  • Renkon Gyoza ~ tempura of lotus root with savoury pork filling
  • Salmon Risotto Croquettes ~ crisp balls of creamy rice and salmon
  • Gindara ~ baked sablefish in a sake-miso marinade
  • Negitoro ~ luscious tuna belly and spring onion on garlic toast
  • Chocolate Caramel Mousse with poached pears ~ wonderful and rich
  • Caramel Pudding ~ light, creamy, and delicious
Flickr Creative Commons
enhmark ~ Jacob Ehnmark
icathing ~ Bill Stillwell

Leaving a comment? I’m curious . . . what makes a meal memorable for you?

How to make a Fail Cake

Once upon a time, I tried really really hard to make a special cake for a special person. This is pretty much how it went down.

How to make a Fail Cake

  1. Don’t read the recipe.
  2. Hurry.
  3. Mix in extra things because you want to be creative and exciting.
  4. Underbake, then return cake to oven, increase heat, and overbake.
  5. Fill and stack cake layers while cake is warm.
  6. Watch cake lean like the Tower of Pisa while you try to decorate it.
  7. Get lots of crumbs in the frosting.
  8. Realize there’s not enough frosting.
  9. Try to make up for lack of frosting by adding jelly beans.
  10. Arrange jelly beans to make an attractive flower, then take a step back and notice it looks like Willy Wonka threw up on your cake.

Company has arrived and it’s time to bring out the glorious cake!

What are you gonna do?

A. Serve it with pride and a stiff cocktail.

B. Dump it in the trash, then hide and have a nice long cry.

C: Frame the dog.

I can haz cake? Iz not trapz? photo by Denzil~

How to frame the dog:

  1. Place Fail Cake on the floor, call the dog and quietly encourage him to eat the cake (even if you have to frost it with dog food).
  2. Appear in front of guests with expression of utter disbelief and exclaim “Oh no! My beautiful cake!” while gesturing at the unwittingly guilty dog.

NOTE: This option seldom works with cats, but might work with a small child or husband if a dog is unavailable.

flickr creative commons