Coffee and Pineapple Cakes

Sheryl received an unexpected gift of coffee beans and pineapple cakes from Taiwan. Much appreciated and I feel lucky that she has such great friends. I’m anxious to try the coffee, not just because you can never have enough, but also to test the likely romanticized memory I have of the quality of beans in Taiwan. Pineapple cake is an odd pairing with coffee but I will give that a try too.


The kids love these meat filled steamed buns purchased at the grocery at the corner of Belvedere and Mt. Edward Rd, across from the Physio clinic. Steamed buns of various types were a staple of their elementary and middle school lives, and though not as good as fresh they are a nice treat, and provide a dose of nostalgia. During my short period of time living in 福州 (Fuzhou), they were a frequent addition to the meagre breakfasts that were available at the company cafeteria.

Changes in diet

3 pieces of imported salmon for $10 CAN

Our diet has gone through a lot of changes since returning to PEI – some good, some bad. If there was a measure called the healthy quotient than I would say overall the quality of our diet has declined. Particularly the kids, as preparing fresh healthy food to take to school for lunch and snack is much more difficult due to the rampant food allergy problems in Canada. As such their diet is far more reliant on easy foods like bread and such.

One missing ingredient in our diet is fish, particularly salmon. We would have salmon once or twice a week in Taiwan, either for breakfast or dinner. It’s a mystery to me how an island with a thriving fishery has such a poor selection of fish in the grocery and at prices far higher than what we paid before. But then, it was also (not so much) a mystery in Taiwan why a product manufactured a 20 minute walk from my house was cheaper in the US and Canada, than it was locally.

Breakfasts in China

During the brief period I worked in China I had an Instagram devoted to the meals I ate in the company cafeteria. The food was generally tasty, safe (!) and clean but getting enough protein in my diet was always a challenge. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have 6 eggs for breakfast to make up for the lack of meat in my diet. When I first arrived I found it interesting that all these completely unathletic colleagues had giant buckets of protein powder at their desks. The lack of protein seemed to be the reason.

A coffee day

Can there be any better day, than a day when you get 11 bags of fresh roasted coffee beans?

Friends from Taiwan sent coffee from a variety of local roasters, while our order of single origin beans from 49th Parallel arrived as well. I’ve had a cup of Ethiopia Worka Sakaro and it was superb.

Also from Taiwan came 100 surgical masks, Taiwan published books and a fan that wraps around your neck. 😂

Breakfasts in Fujian

My short time working in China presented some challenges for maintain my previous protein rich diet. The company cafeteria while providing great food by local standards, and I can confirm that it was largely justified, always skimped on the meat or fish. Often I would ask the cook if perhaps they mislabelled the curry chicken; I suggested they call it curry chicken bones but they didn’t implement my suggestion. Breakfasts were cheap, tasty, but again heavy on the carbs. Out of sheer boredom I started to document my breakfasts, even starting an instagram account solely for that purpose, but as would be expected stopped after about a month. Some of those are below:

Final meal at 福樂 in Hsinchu

We’ve been wanting to return to this restaurant since our last visit, this time was to quietly celebrate my birthday and both kids graduating school. And with only two days left before I land in Charlottetown, it is the last meal out will have time for. The meal was great as always and to say I am going to miss this kind of food is an understatement, 鮭魚丼飯 or whatever other name it is called is one of my favorite foods. But that’s one the reasons to travel – to taste each regions food. Excuse the non-instagram worthy photography.

新竹美食禧樂 – 丼飯,刺身,炭燒

Camren’s Mark Wiens Impression

The kids have gotten me into the habit of watching Youtube clips during my downtime. We have never had cable or watched much in the way of TV (outside of our occasional Netflix habit) but somehow the kids have found a way to circumvent our no TV habit via Youtube. It’s their gateway to all kinds of good and bad entertainment and culture. One of my favorites recently is blogger Mark Wiens and his Youtube channel on food. He does great work but what we like the most is the reveal, that moment when he takes that first bite. The kids think it’s great. So for fun I recorded Camren, during a recent trip to The Diner on Guanxin Rd. in Hsinchu, trying his first Mark Wiens impression. We might make this a habit in the future.

Fixing Our Food Problem

Nothing affects public health in the United States more than food. Gun violence kills tens of thousands of Americans a year. Heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes kill more than a million people a year — nearly half of all deaths — and diet is a root cause of many of those diseases.

And the root of that dangerous diet is our system of hyper-industrial agriculture, the kind that uses 10 times as much energy as it produces.

We must figure out a way to un-invent this food system. It’s been a major contributor to climate change, spawned the obesity crisis, poisoned countless volumes of land and water, wasted energy, tortured billions of animals… I could go on. The point is that “sustainability” is not only possible but essential: only by saving the earth can we save ourselves, and vice versa.

How do we do that?

This seems like a good day to step back a bit and suggest something that’s sometimes difficult to accept.


We can only dismantle this system little by little, and slowly. Change takes time. Often — usually — that time exceeds the life span of its pioneers.

Mark Bittman on fixing the US, and by extension much of the world’s, food problem. If you want to make changes in your eating habits but need someone to give you a concrete plan you might consider visiting Mark’s Daily Apple, The Paleo Diet, or Robb Wolf’s site.

Lunch in the Philippines

Poor shot of what was a nice lunch yesterday in Taipei – it felt like being in the Philippines as the community was out enjoying their one day off of the week. All the food was quite good though the almost black coloured dish was a bit more of a challenge. It taste good but it’s amazing how colour can really change your perception of a thing. Perhaps if a bright orange food colouring was added there wouldn’t have been the natural hesitation by all at the table to dig in and give it a try.

Read more

Pork with Pineapple Raisin Sauce

I found this simple sauce tonight via a “feelin’ lucky” search on Google – I was scampering to find something interesting to eat. It was originally meant as a sauce for a pork roast but you can’t get roast pork in Hsinchu nor do I have a large oven to cook it in. It had to be changed slightly to be cooked in a wok.
It worked out ok and I will give it another try but with less sugar and raisins.
1st) Cook a large piece of lean pork that has been cut into small pieces in the wok. You will want to add some onion, about 5 cloves of garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper as it cooks. Just before the meat is completely cooked add the sauce.
2) Sauce:

  • 1/2 – 1 c. finely cut pineapple
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 tbsp. corn starch

Mix (with a whisk) brown sugar, water, and raisins in small bowl. Add corn starch as you are mixing. Poor over pork and bring wok to high. Add pineapple and mix about.
Within a short period of time the sauce will thicken. I let it sit on low while I prepare the vegetables in another wok.
Serve with long grain rice (Thai. rice being my favourite).

Delicious Days

I’ve been spending far more time cooking these past months than I have ever in the past. Cooking and spending time in the kitchen is something we should all endeavor to do more of – it’s a great place to get together and share in what is often forgotten to be a fundamental activity among families. We all spend far too much time racing around between jobs and bringing home unhealthy “fast food”. My point is not about cooking but about a great site I found about cooking (very ungraceful segue I know).
When searching for a snack idea I came across the site Delicious Days. While I can attest that the recipes are wonderful, what really makes this site stand out is the beautiful photography. Ever article is supported by appropriate shots of food and process making you almost want to eat the screen. The design of the site supports the photography well too. There are problems but I won’t nit pick – it’s too good for that. Go check it out for yourself – Delicious Days.

Garlic Ribs

This is an old recipe from back home I pulled out last night. It has it’s origins on a country farm where introductions to Asian food come from readers digest and the sides of instant rice.
Though it is a tad salty and perhaps not for those worried about their waistline I do I think it tastes great. Importantly, it is extremely easy.
I’ve changed it a bit to match what is available and done here in Taiwan (ie. I have no oven here).
1st) Cook the ribs. I bought precut short ribs – a bit more expensive but I don’t have the time to cut them myself. I boiled them to speed up the process and then finished cooking them in my large wok with about 2 tablespoons of crushed garlic.
2nd) Make Sauce.

  • 20oz of regular coke (600ml)
  • ~ 4 garlic buds. I used about 6 + tablespoons of crushed garlic, it was a bit much but I love garlic
  • ~ 1 cup brown sugar. I used a bit less than a cup
  • ~ 1/2 cup of soya sauce. You have to watch this as I find it makes it salty
  • 4 tblsp of corn starch
  • ~ 2 tblsp vinegar

Whisk ingredients.
3) Combine sauce, ribs, in large wok and bring to a boil for 20 minutes. Stir often. Cook covered slowly for another 30 minutes or longer. Start your other ingredients for the meal- rice and veggies.

My Chicken and Pork Adobo

I have been quite fortunate these past few months to have the time to spend on one of my favourite hobbies, cooking. Cooking is one of those activities that we seem to forget when you have to work late everyday and the lure of the corner “lunch box” seems so much more convenient. I’m not the best cook and my dishes seldom look pretty but I thought I would share from time to time the recipes I have enjoyed. The recipes are more likely than not, approximations … if you have some innate fear of failure and you aren’t comfortable winging it you might want to find other recipe with more exact instructions.
Here is dish I tried tonight which was taught to me by my Filipina friend Margie. Likely my version is no wear as good as what she makes but it tasted fine for a first attempt.

Chicken and Pork Adobo

aprox. 250 ml rice vinegar (or cider vinegar)
aprox. 250 ml water
peeled and crushed garlic (lots of it, maybe 3-4-5 tablespoons)
5 pieces of bay leaves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 package chicken (I used boneless chicken breasts cut Chinese style)
1 package pork butt ( a bit more than the chicken)
1 carrot thinly sliced
brown sugar to taste (I used quite allot)
soy sauce
Add oil, vinegar, water, garlic, salt, carrot, bay leaves and pepper into a large wok. Bring to a boil. Add the meat, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Liberally cover with soy sauce (taste as you go) and cook for an additional 10 minutes (I boiled to reduce liquid to a minimum). Let sit.
Serve with rice.