I’ve been obsessed with trying to make Cantonese-style Tomato Pork Chop ever since I tried my friend Kristie’s mom’s version of it last year.

Tomato pork chop

We’d spent the entire day filming a music video for The RUSH Urban Race and Scavenger Hunt. It was our entry into a contest that would bring us fame, fortune, prestige…okay, okay. We were singing and dancing in order to win a golden ticket that would get us to the head of the line on race day. But with over 200 teams competing in this awesome challenge-based race, you could bet your bottom dollar that front of the line status is pretty stellar.

Pork Chops

Anyway, in the midst of trying to figure out Mac-related video editing problems, we were called down to dinner where this giant plate of tomato pork chop was sitting. It looked glorious.

Huge tender pieces of pork chop swimming in a dense, sweet and sour tomato sauce.

Tomato

It took me a year, but I finally attempted to make this dish myself and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. We may not have won the video contest or The RUSH last year, but Kristie and I are determined to give it another go this time around!

Finished tomato pork chop

Cantonese-style Tomato Pork chop

Adapted from Christine’s Recipes

Ingredients

½ lb boneless pork chops (thinly sliced)
2 tomatoes, cut into chunks
½ onion, chopped
1 ½ tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 ½ tsp garlic, minced
¼ c water
1 tbsp oil

Marinade

2 ½ tsp soy sauce
½ tsp white sugar
1 egg white
2 tsp ginger, freshly grated
½ tsp rice flour
Pinch of pepper

Thickening sauce

1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice flour
2 tbsp water

  1. Rinse pork chops and pat dry with a paper towel. Tenderize with a mallet and then cut into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Mix marinade ingredients together and then add pork chop pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge. Marinate for 20 minutes.
  3. Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add pork chops and cook until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Place on dish and set aside.
  4. Add another ½ tbsp oil to the pan and sauté garlic and onions. Toss in tomato chunks. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add water and bring to a boil.
  6. Add sugar and ketchup and then, cover pan. Cook until the tomatoes soften, about 5-7 minutes.
  7. Toss in pork chop pieces and stir together and cook until pork chop pieces are cooked through.
  8. Add thickening sauce to your preferred consistency.

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St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner and instead of enjoying my Guinness all by it’s lonesome, I decided to make one of my favourite green treats. These matcha white chocolate brownies don’t have a whole lot of Irish in them, but their pretty green colour and sweet flavour more than makes up for that tiny imperfection.

White Chocolate Matcha Brownies

Also, it’s not like, you know, shamrocks are in season right now.

Anyway, I was inspired to create this recipe after the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami. Two local food bloggers, Melody of Gourmet Fury and Joy of Gourmeted, immediately got the Vancouver community involved in a huge bake sale that raised funds for relief and aid in Japan. It was an amazing event with, and I cannot stress this enough, TONS of unbelievably delicious baked goods.

Melting butter and white chocolate together

Going home with a bag full of matcha macarons, sumo-shaped cookies, cupcakes and other yummy treats made me feel a lot like Taylor Swift when she finds a new boyfriend – incredibly lucky. But mostly because I got to stuff my face with awesome and not because I suddenly had new material to use in my next hit song.

White chocolate matcha batter in a pan

I love the earthy flavour of matcha and I’ve gotten used to associating the taste of it with feelings of calm, warmth, and ninja-like zen. The white chocolate adds a rich, decadence to this brownie, which turns out really dense and thick.

It may not be Irish, but it’s damn delicious. And I have no doubt, it will be extra yummy with a pint of Guinness, too.

White chocolate matcha brownies

White chocolate matcha brownies

1 C salted butter
10 tbsp white chocolate chips or white baking chocolate
1 C granulated sugar
1½ tbsp matcha
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 all purpose flour

  1. Melt butter and white chocolate together over a double broiler. Once melted, whisk to cool until lukewarm.
  2. Add sugar and matcha. Blend thoroughly. Batter should be a nice dark, green color.
  3. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  4. Add in flour and fold until most of the flour is incorporated. Do not overmix or you risk getting an airy, cakelike brownie, instead of something fudgy and dense. It’s okay to have some small flour chunks in the batter.
  5. Pour the batter into a greased and parchment paper’d 8x8in pan
  6. Bake in a preheated 325F oven for 40-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Let rest in pan for 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
  8. Dust with icing sugar when brownies have completely cooled.

Yields: 6-9 servings depending on how big your slices are

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I love a good haul post, especially when it’s all about food. As I mentioned yesterday, when I went to the Vancouver Winter Farmer’s Market, I got absolutely drenched in a crazy rainstorm (aka the visiting Pineapple Express system). It was a bad time to find out that my waterproof jacket isn’t actually waterproof or that my umbrella can’t actually stand up to anything stronger than a single raindrop.Dundarave olives, Earnest ice cream, Salt Spring Island cheese and Thai Princess curry

I managed to tough it out for half an hour though, before becoming almost too cold and wet to function. This meant that I was only able to buy a few things at the market. BUT for a girl whose teeth were chattering so much, she could barely see straight, I managed to buy some pretty awesome food products. And the best part is that they’re all from local British Columbia-based companies.

Figaro’s Folly, $7 – Dundarave Olive Company

Dundarave Figaro's Folly Olives

These big, green olives are stuffed with a mixture of fig, apricots and honey. It’s a tasty sweet mix that goes well with the saltiness of the green olives, which I found to be a lot less salty than the olives you’d get at the supermarket. It went really well with the creamy Romelia from Salt Spring.

Romelia Goat Cheese, $12 – Salt Spring Island Cheese

Romelia goat cheese froSalt Spring Island Cheese

I LOVE THIS CHEESE. It’s everything you would want cheese to be – super creamy, rich, and flavourful enough to leave a mark without kicking you in the head. Believe me, I’ve met enough aged blue cheese to know the difference.

Green Curry Quick Stir-Fry Sauce, $9 – Thai Princess

Green curry quick stir-fry sauce from Thai Princess

Suratin, the owner of Thai Princess, was absolutely fabulous. He saw that I was practically drowning on dry land and told me to try his curry sauces to help warm up. Was I a sucker for his marketing ploy? Yep. Was he a really nice, helpful and informative man who really knew his product inside and out? Hell yes.

This green curry isn’t too spicy, which lets you get the flavour profile of all the ingredients, especially the lemon grass. One of the cool things about this curry is that it’s gluten, wheat, and dairy-free (yay coconut milk!).

Maple Walnut, $10 – Earnest Ice Cream

Maple Walnut ice cream from Earnest Ice Cream

I remember when this local company started showing up at events last year and love that it’s really taken off. The Maple Walnut was one of the last two flavours they had by the time I got to them. Yep, even on an intensely rainy day, they managed to sell out of nearly twelve different flavours! That’s how good their ice cream is.

The ice cream is infused with a natural maple flavour without being overly sweet and the toasted walnuts add the right crunch to make this ice cream highly addictive. And if the idea of finishing this pint in one sitting makes you feel bad (it really shouldn’t), then you can turn that frown upside down knowing you can return the recyclable glass jar to the folks at Earnest and they’ll give you $1 back!

What cool products did you take home from your last visit to a farmers market?

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I felt a little bit like a postal worker when I checked out the Vancouver Winter Farmers Market last weekend. You know the whole “neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night” thing? Yeah, I have a much better idea of what these guys have to go through now.

Things to do in Vancouver: TheVancouver Farmer's Market

Rainy Vancouver weather and gorgeous Ambrosia apples

I’m pretty sure the idea of braving the winter cold just to check out a farmer’s market doesn’t really appeal to everybody. I’m even more certain that going out in a monsoon just for a farmer’s market is reserved only for the insane.

Well, I guess you can call me crazy because that’s exactly what I did last Saturday. But in my defense, it was only drizzling when I stepped outside that day. The monsoon didn’t hit until it was too late to turn back. Go unpredictable Vancouver weather.

But it was kind of worth drowning on dry land because I got to go home with some seriously tasty goodies (check back tomorrow for that post). Any guesses as to what they could be? :)

Vancouver Farmers Market haul

Why Farmers Markets are Awesome

Farmers markets are renowned for being the spot to find locally and organically grown fruit, produce, and meats. You’ll also find locally made goodies like cheese, honey, and, in my case, Thai curries! The vendors really know their stuff, so feel free to ask them any questions you have about what they’re selling – where is it grown? How is it grown? Why are your apples so much redder than the ones I get at the supermarket?

Thai Curry Vendor at the Vancouver Farmers Market

Also, did I mention the vendors are also really nice? When my umbrella broke, the guy who sells the Thai curries let me hang out under his stall and helped me warm up by offering me multiple tastes of all his curries. Great customer service always gets me.

In Vancouver, the farmers market goes year round, so if you’re looking for things to do in the winter, I definitely suggest checking it out just to see what hidden treats you could dig up (try to go when the sky isn’t pouring buckets though. I worry about you).

Other Things to Do at the Farmers Market

Aside from getting to see local musicians and performers bust out their talents, the winter market is also a treasure trove for Vancouver food trucks. While I was swimming around on dry land, I spotted Vij’s Railway Truck, Le Tigre, and Chilitank.

Vij's Railway truck's Butter chicken schniztel

I went over to Vij’s for the Butter Chicken Schnitzel and a delicious, steaming hot chai tea. The chicken was perfectly crispy on the outside (I think they used panko breadcrumbs) and moist and juicy on the inside. The best part was that it wasn’t greasy at all, which made the butter sauce that much better. I loved the creamy tomato-based sauce, which had the right hint of sour and heat. It was perfect for warming me up in the cold, wet weather.

Another awesome thing about the market is that you can swipe your debit card for tokens that you can use at the stalls. I know a lot of people don’t carry cash anymore, so this was really convenient.

The winter edition of the Vancouver Farmer’s Market is open every Saturday until April 21 from 10am to 2pm at Nat Bailey Stadium. 

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San Francisco Golden Gate bridge

As much as I love to travel, I’m totally guilty of not being a tourist in my own city. When you try to be a tourist in your own city, life somehow always gets in the way.

That is, unless you make a conscious effort to be an explorer for a day. It’s a little known fact that I was actually born in San Francisco and used to live here when I was a kid. However, I’m just as bad at being a tourist in San Fran as I am in Vancouver. This is mainly because I’ve got tons of family living in the suburbs and rarely ever need to go into the city.

But when a friend had a 12-hour layover while I was visiting for Christmas, it gave me the prime opportunity to check out places and things I’d long forgotten make this city so amazing. Here are things you can do if you’ve only got a day in SF:

Sabella and La Torre clam chowder, deep fried shrimp and lobster rolls

Fisherman’s Wharf is always a must when you visit San Francisco. This iconic area is where you’ll find some of the best seafood in town. We stopped by Sabella & La Torre for clam chowder bread bowls. It’s a thick, hearty soup that warms you up and the sourdough bread bowl is the perfect way to fill up for a day of adventures. You can also get delicious things like clam strips, deep fried shrimp, and lobster rolls from the kiosk out front.

USS Pampanito at Fisherman's Wharf

A few steps from the seafood joints, you’ll find the Musee Mecanique. It’s filled with vintage arcade games – some from as far back as the 1920’s – and all of them are still in working condition! And just outside of the arcade is the USS Pampanito, a WWII submarine turned museum.

Sea lions at Pier 39 in San Francisco

From there, you can make your way to Pier 39. There are tons of shops, restaurants, and bars here, but what you should head straight for are the sea lions! TONS of them live at Pier 39, lazying about and doing a good job of looking cute whether it’s sunny or pouring rain. And you can even check them out on the live webcam if you can’t make it out to SF, but need something to make you smile.

Pier 39 view of Alcatraz, a San Francisco attraction

After the seals, the view is always worth checking out. When you first get into Pier 39, just keep going straight until you see the Candy Baron and right behind it is a great lookout. You’ll be able to see Alcatraz and on a fogless day, you may even see the Golden Gate Bridge! Both are attractions definitely worth visiting on their own.

Pier 39 carousel and funnel cake

I highly recommend you also try some funnel cake topped with strawberry sauce, whipped cream, icing sugar, and vanilla ice cream. During the summer and fall, you can work off your sugar high on the giant carousel.

Cable car or trolley in San Francisco

By this point, my friend and I still had six hours left, so we hopped on a cable car to Union Square. There’s a stop nearby on Taylor St. and Bay St. Everyone who comes to San Francisco needs to ride one of these bad boys at least once. Be sure to grab a ticket at the booth next to the Starbucks. A one-way trip is $6.

If you’re a fan of Full House, singing the theme song as you ride along is pretty much mandatory. The drivers are also hilarious and make the ride even more fun.

Union Square in San Francisco

Union Square is the main shopping district. You’ll find department stores like Macy’s here, as well as stores like Nike, Tiffany’s, and Uniqlo.

Jasper's Corner Tap in San Francisco

For dinner, we pigged out at Jasper’s Corner Tap. The drinks menu is extensive – from beer to craft cocktails – and the food menu is filled with modern pub grub. We got started with the Chef’s Choice poutine and then moved on to our mains: the J Burger for him and Seared Tuna Steak Sandwich for me.

It was the perfect end to an epic day of being tourists in the City by the Bay.

Did I miss anything on this list? Let me know in the comments what your favourite San Francisco attractions is! :)

*Pictures are a mix from my trip in October 2012 and December 2012

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