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Making The Christmas Pudding Part 2

The day finally came to steam my Christmas Pudding, and the truth would be revealed whether I am facing a culinary disaster never experienced before.

I didn’t follow the method of the pudding recipe exactly as there are various ingredients I just don’t like, and the same for the steaming process too. I know, I am taking a risk as I’m not in any way shape or form a chef.

So, I put butter and flour in some plastic basins I had hanging around. Placed the pudding, that had been sitting in the fridge for a week, into the basins, about 3/4 full. I then put a circle of parchment paper on top, then covered with foil and secured with an elastic band.  We have a large steamer we got from the Chinese store so I used that, it fit 3 small basins. I still have more pudding mix remaining so I will have to find more basins from somewhere and repeat this exercise another day.

The recipe says steam for 4 hours, but I slightly reduced that as I spread the pudding mix over 3 small basins.

I was completely gobsmacked when I tried the pudding, it actually tasted very good. I was stunned. I guess my previous experience with Christmas Pudding, being as hard as a brick, frightened me off making any more. Well, now I have tons of Christmas Pudding that will last me months, and I can make it anytime I want. I am very happy.

By |2019-12-07T16:45:45+00:00December 7th, 2019|Christmas Pudding, Food|0 Comments

Making My Christmas Pudding Part 1

It’s not really in my field of expertise to make my own Christmas Pudding, I have only done it once and that turned out to be rock hard. I am quite happy others making it for me as they can do a better job. However, this year I thought I would be brave and do my own.

I chose a recipe that didn’t include the incredients I dislike the most:

  • Dates
  • Peel
  • Large nuts
  • Beer

Actually the recipe I did choose did contain some of those but I put extra dried fruit or alcohol to compensate.

So Stir Up Sunday, this year on 24th November, was the traditional day to make your pudding. This pudding is in two chunks, stir the incredients, leave for a week, then steam the pudding/s.

Unless I made an error the stirring part was actually incredibly easy.  Mix the dry incredients, add the fruit, stir in the wet stuff. I felt drunk just smelling it, did I put in too much alcohol or is there such a thing as too much?

So, I wait until next Sunday to do the steaming. Below are pictures of my first session.

By |2019-11-26T05:52:57+00:00November 26th, 2019|Christmas Pudding, Food|0 Comments

Review Canadian Kit Kat

KitKatI’m not too bothered with the KitKat chocolate bar, it’s not something I eat on a regular basis but thought I would review the Canadian version of the product since it was on sale.

Each country appears to have its own quality of chocolate they use in their recipes and Canada is no exception. Whenever I used to visit Paris or Brussels friends used to ask me to buy KitKat there as the quality of chocolate appeared to be better than the UK.   So, how does the Canadian version pair up to its European counterpart?

Review

  1. The quality of the chocolate isn’t too bad at all, certainly wasn’t gross, I had the milk chocolate variety.
  2. Either my hands have got bigger or the bars have become significantly reduced in size and the price has increased.
  3. I couldn’t eat the whole bar in one go, it lasted me two days. I just don’t eat as much chocolate any more.
  4. The packaging has changed since the last KitKat I had in the UK, many years ago. It had an inner foil wrapper and an outer paper wrapper.  I actually prefer that compared to the one wrapper they provide today which I found fiddly to open, but not a big issue I guess.
  5. The chocolate melted quite quickly and I had it on a fairly cold day, I don’t recall that happening before.
  6. There was no bad after taste in my mouth.
  7. The wafer didn’t feel as crunchy as I remember it to be in Europe.

Summary

It was just….ok, but not something I would buy on a regular basis.  I would save up my money and buy chocolate from independent stores or small businesses.

Last Word

The KitKat website displays a range of products that I have never seen before, at least they aren’t available at any of the locations I shop at.  I often see a couple of different varieties in Asian supermarkets not available from Canadian retailers.  Some of the products listed on the KitKat Canada website link to Amazon, London Drugs etc but some I have no idea where you would purchase. Maybe they want to devoted fan to go out there and hunt for them but don’t have the energy for that.

Websites

By |2019-05-30T18:01:35+00:00May 30th, 2019|Food|0 Comments

Weetabix vs Weetabix

When you travel around or have lived in 3 different countries as I have, you realise international brands aren’t the same everywhere.  This is definitely the case for breakfast cereal Weetabix. This is a comparison against Weetabix UK and Weetabix Canada.

What are the brand differences?

WeetabixIn the picture to the right, the Weetabix on top is Canadian and below is a box I bought from Tesco in the UK.

The UK is going for a more minimalist branding on Weetabix boxes with plenty of blank space at the moment, at least on the one I picked up. I have seen better designs in recent years and personally prefer it when they are busier.

Canada suggests their 12 size Weetabix product as their introductory first-timer marketing solution, at least that’s how it looks.  Rarely do I see boxes of 12 in Canada apart from in this format and I’ve only found them in London Drugs. They always have a $1 off coupon for their 24 size boxes, definitely worth picking up.

In the US Weetabix product placement usually goes in the “healthy cereal” area not among the American-style cereals which are generally full of sugar and other rubbish.  In Canada, I notice they are mingled in with the American cereals and aren’t so noticeable as generally, they don’t place them to sell well, usually in the uppermost shelf and only a 1 box row. There is an exception at London Drugs who often display them in the aisle rather than on the shelf or in a prominent position on the selves.

Here is one of the Weetabix UK commercials which I recall seeing before:

I don’t actually recall seeing any Weetabix commericals in Canada but there has at least been one:

Pricing

12 size

In Canada, London Drugs usually sell 1 box for $1.69 (GBP £0.95) or alternatively, 2 boxes or more for $1.50 each (GBP £0.85). In the UK, based on Tesco pricing, a box of 12 is currently £1.50.  So, based on a box of 12, Weetabix is cheaper in Canada.

24 size

In Canada, this ranges in pricing significantly from store to store. In Walmart, I’ve seen it at $3.97, in Real Canadian Superstore at $4.05 but in other stores can be as much as $6.00. In the UK, based on Sainsbury pricing, a box of 24 is currently £2.80, that is CAD $4.96.  Compared to its lowest prices a 24 pack of Weetabix is also cheaper in Canada.

Other sizes

I have not seen larger size boxes of Weetabix in Canada (ie 48 and 72) to do a comparison against the UK. I would prefer to buy larger boxes if I can assuming it would be a bargain for me to do so.

Taste Differences

Many might think that Weetabix tastes the same no matter where you buy it, but this is not the case.

The Canadian box states that it is manufactured in Canada. The UK box doesn’t say where it’s manufactured but does state it contains 100% British wholegrain wheat. It’s difficult to assess if the nutritional facts are the same due to how differently each country displays them on the packaging.

Getting right down to it, I actually prefer the British Weetabix.  The texture of the British product seems crunchier and rougher compared to the Canadian equivalent, I think I must have got used to that over the years. Yes, and there is a slight taste difference, I do prefer the UK taste over the Canadian. The British product is better when I put hot milk on it too.

I would pay a higher price for the British product. Some specialist stores in Canada do sell the British version of the product, just like they sell other products that have Canadian equivalents, however, they are very expensive to buy, as though I have paid full price for them to be shipped all the way from the UK.  I guess British people know the difference between UK products and their Canadian equivalents.

I wish I had bought more British Weetabix back with me from my trip. Oh well. Where ever you buy Weetabix it’s still a great product and recommend you try it if you haven’t done so already.

Resources

Weetabix UK: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Weetabix Canada: Post Website (No Dedicated Canadian Site)

Weetabix USA: Website | Facebook (was a US site redirects to Weetabix International) | Twitter (hasn’t been updated since 2015)

By |2019-03-27T15:05:59+00:00March 27th, 2019|Canada, Food, UK|0 Comments

Shreddies vs Shreddies vs Chex

One of my favourite cereals that I must have is Shreddies. Over the years I haven’t noticed a change in the taste, at least since I’ve been eating them which is probably for almost 50 years now.  I only eat Shreddies in hot milk, I know some people like to mix it up with dried fruit and other cereal with cold milk but this isn’t for me.

So who has the better Shreddies?

Shreddies UKUnited Kingdom

Production of Shreddies in the United Kingdom began in 1953, much later than in Canada. They were first manufactured by Nabisco until they were taken over by Nestle.  This is probably the best of all the Shreddies, as in better quality and flavour profile.  I enjoy two of their products, both Original and Frosted.  I don’t care for the Coco flavour but haven’t had the chance to try their Shreddies Max product. The price of Shreddies is GBP£2.00 for 415g, at least this is the current price from Tesco, the cost is very reasonable. [Shreddies UK]

Shreddies CanadaCanada

Production of Shreddies in Canada began before that of the United Kingdom, in 1939, by Nabisco.  Post Cereal went on to buy them out. This hasn’t got the same taste as the UK version but its pretty close, however, I still enjoy this product very much.  I only like their Original Flavour, they don’t do the Frosted variety in Canada as much as I have lobbied them to introduce it into this market. The price of Shreddies in Canada is around CAD$3.97 for 100g but depends where you buy it from, there are always deals and sales. [Shreddies Canada]

Wheat ChexUnited States

Shreddies isn’t sold in the United States so when I lived there the closest I could find was Wheat Chex, this is manufactured by General Mills. The taste is very different, more bitter, is harder and just not as enjoyable.  I don’t enjoy any of the other Chex products.  I bought Wheat Chex when it was on sale and would eat it occasionally. Some Chex products are available in Canada but not the Wheat brand.  Chex isn’t available in the United Kingdom.  I’m not sure of the price of Chex in the US. [Wheat Chex]

So, who wins in this contest?  Yes, British Shreddies. Canadian Shreddies coming in as a close second. US Chex is third.

By |2019-02-12T01:16:54+00:00February 12th, 2019|Canada, Food, United Kingdom, USA|0 Comments

Crystall Mall

Today we did one of our regular trips to Crystal Mall.  This shopping centre has mainly Asian businesses or ones that target the Asian community. It is best known for its Food Hall and food shops. There are many other businesses such as travel agents, kitchenware, immigration advice, hairdressers and toy shops.

There are a number of routes to the shopping centre and is conveniently located in Burnaby near Metrotown, Metropolis at Metrotown is a mega-shopping centre.  Metrotown can be very stressful so we tend to keep clear and keep to Crystal Mall.

What a fantastic array of choices there are in the Food Hall from Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean and more. Unlike many other standard food halls this one is of very high quality, maybe it’s because the competition is great with the other stores.  We do like to have DimSum there, a couple of outlets do this very well, but spend time and discover for yourself.

Here are some photographs from our trip to Crystal Mall today.

By |2019-01-16T01:00:33+00:00January 16th, 2019|Canada, Food|0 Comments

Pink Pearl

Pink Pearl LogoOne of the Chinese restaurants we go to quite frequently is Pink Pearl here in Vancouver, we recommend it for the following Dim Sum dishes:

  1. Baked Char Siu Bao (Baked BBQ Pork in a Bun)
  2. Char Siu Sow (BBQ Pork in Puff Pastry)
  3. Sui Mai (Pork and Shrimp Dumpling)
  4. Steamed Sticky Rice
  5. Pork and Corn in Rice Noodle

Photos for 1-3 and 5 shown below.

Quick Review

Staff in the restaurant are really friendly even though one or two might come across as being brusk this is just Chinese mannerisms.

The restaurant recently went through a refurbishment, therefore, look quite amazing inside.  Although it looks quite an upscale type of restaurant I wouldn’t call it overly posh food, it is all traditional and most of it tastes awesome.

They have Dim Sum carts plus a menu you can order most other items, we usually order a mix of both. The portions are of a very decent size and always end up taking food home, but order a little extra which will see us over two more lunches or dinners.

They have on-site parking but can fill up quickly depending on the day and time you go. There are streets in the area you can park but that is also limited in space. We do tend to go outside of busy times.

So I would say this restaurant is a must, hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

By |2019-01-10T23:22:15+00:00January 10th, 2019|Canada, Food|0 Comments

Steven Vs McDonalds

McDonaldsI was inspired to write this when talking to someone online who went through similar experiences.  I really don’t care for fast food at all in particular McDonald’s. I appear to have had a series of unfortunate events with them throughout my lifetime which means I prefer to stay as far away as possible. So lets talk about those events…

Essex, United Kingdom

Many years ago the first McDonald’s arrived much to the protest of locals in the community. The town already had Wimpy, Fish and Chip, and other restaurants. McDonalds claimed to sell 100% beef but it was discovered that their burgers had a large portion of horse meat in them. YUK, I was seriously grossed out. There was a big campaign against them but they were supposed to have corrected the issue. Still hear rumours of horse meat to this day though.

Piccadilly Circus, London

Fast forward a few years to the late 1970s when I had started work in the Diplomatic Service. Because of the horse meat scandal I didn’t want to go anywhere near McDonalds but when one of my colleagues wanted to take me to have my first one I went along. I remember later that day I had to go home sick as I had the worst tummy ache I had ever experienced, I suspect it might have been their milk shakes rather than the burger or fries.

Surrey Quays, London

Fast forward a few more years when I bought an apartment in Surrey Quays, London. Eventually they built a McDonalds near to my flat, that was ok because I couldn’t see it and it didn’t increase the traffic in the area.  However, all of a sudden everyone in our apartment block had electricity power problems, it seemed to fluctuate at certain times of the day and often had power cuts.  The power supply company monitored the situation for 3 months, we even had ugly devices set up in our homes and it was discovered that whenever McDonalds had a busy period they would suck the power from the whole neighbourhood. Everyone was really hacked off with them but the power company came to the rescue to fix the issue.

New York, USA

I went into a McDonalds in NYC where I was robbed. I was told by staff it happened there frequently. My camera and passport were stolen so not only did I have to file a report with the police department, who treated me like a criminal rather than a victim, I also had to get a temporary passport from the British Consulate which was also a nightmare.

Los Angeles, USA

Just passing a McDonalds in Downtown Los Angeles a bloke came up to me with a gun forcing me to buy him a meal. The staff reacted that it was just like an every day occurrence. I sat with the guy in the “restaurant” and had a long conversation with him, which I guess was interesting but its not quite what I had planned for the day.

Budapest, Hungary

Just passing a McDonalds in Vaci Utca (Street) in Budapest, to look what different items they sold there compared to West Europe, two of the ugliest looking prostitutes who were hanging around inside came out to try and sell us their “services”. They spoke to us in English at first and we pretended not to understand. They then spoke to us in Hungarian, we shook our heads. Eventually I had to bellow out a loud f**k off in English to get them move aside. I suppose its not McDonalds fault they just were hanging around inside the store for business but maybe this was a good place for pick ups.

Vancouver, Canada

We went into a McDonalds because our niece wanted to go in there, only to find out that adults were selling alcohol and drugs to children. We called the police, staff in there didn’t seem to want to be bothered with it. At that time we knew a top security person within the organisation and contacted him about it the next day, he said he would sort it out.

Coquitlam, Canada

We went into a McDonalds to try one of their “50th Anniversary in Canada” burger specials. I made the mistake of opening the burger up to look inside and it was the most dried up pathetic looking piece of meat I had ever seen with a blob of cheese in one corner and a pickle just hanging out another. I just couldn’t eat something that looked as though its been run over by a car on a dirty highway.  We laughed a little, threw the food out and went somewhere else for real meal.

Maybe I’ve had a series of dumb luck with this company or I am just jinxed every time I have fast food but really don’t want to go back in to one again.

By |2018-08-21T17:22:56+00:00April 17th, 2018|Food|0 Comments

Best Porridge in Canada

It has been known that I am a person of very discerning taste, some call me fussy, when it comes to certain food products.  The same goes with my taste in porridge.

OatsUpon returning to Canada I found that, much to my dismay, that no company has my favourite porridge on sale. Actually it was pretty difficult to obtain in the US as well.  So, I had to embark on a hunt, and taste test, various products.  Eventually I found Presidents Choice Quick Oats.

Why is this product good?

  • When they say quick they mean quick.  Little effort is involved in cooking this in the morning when I am not at my best.
  • I can cook it in the method I love to eat it.
  • It tastes good

Following is my recipe on how I use this product for breakfast.  Some other British friends also use this method, maybe to make it similar to Ready Brek (which is available here but too expensive).

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Presidents Choice Organics Quick Oats
  • 1/2 cup Milk, I normally use 2%
  • Honey, to taste

Method

  1. Grind down the quick oats to a near floury consistency and place in microwave safe bowl. This may sound a bit odd to Canadians and Americans.
  2. Mix Milk and Oats in the bowl.
  3. Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute.
  4. Stir Milk and Oats again just to blend in properly.
  5. Add honey to taste. Obviously you can use many other types of toppings too, whatever is your favourite.

So, you see it is pretty easy to do especially for those who are fairly dysfunctional in the mornings.

In my local Real Canadian Store Quick Oats is less than $4 for 1Kg which is a bargain.

By |2018-08-08T04:19:43+00:00February 11th, 2018|Food|0 Comments