Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Vancouver native pens cookbook



Pamela Ellgen is a sneaky cook, at least when it comes to her children.

The 30-year-old, who grew up in Vancouver, has developed her own kitchen psychology to teach her two young sons to enjoy healthy food.

“One of the sneakiest ways to do that is invite them in the kitchen when you’re cooking and let them ask ‘what’s that?’” she said. “My son has had kale and raw red onions and cucumber. He even likes heirloom cherry tomatoes. What kid likes those?”

Brad, who’s 4, is a vegetable expert. She hopes that her 3-month-old, Cole, follows in his footsteps.

“He hasn’t caught on yet that kids aren’t supposed to like green food,” Ellgen said. “Hopefully we can keep him up with that.”

Ellgen, a freelance writer and certified personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine, decided to share her love of cooking healthy food with the public. So she’s written her first cookbook, “Modern Family Table.”

The book includes several healthy recipes and also investigates how food, health and community all interplay with one another.

“There seems to be this emphasis on convenience food and even convenience cooking,” Ellgen said. “I don’t mind if it takes more than 30 minutes to cook a meal. You can relax, have a glass of wine, talk about food. I think it’s important to reconnect with that.”

Ellgen will speak at the launch event for her cookbook 6:30-8 p.m. Friday at The Enchanted Gift Shop and Tea Room, 502 Washington St. The book will also be available for purchase on

“I love inspiring people to cook,” Ellgen said. “I’m really thrilled to be able to encourage my fellow Vancouverites to eat healthy.”

Vancouver man wins coffee shop’s latte art contest

Stephen Mesa, 26, of Vancouver has won River Maiden’s So You Think You Can Pour latte art contest.

In the contest, customers of River Maiden’s two Vancouver stores were allowed to use steamed milk foam to pour pictures into the tops of their latte drinks. Those with the best pictures won gift certificates.

Mesa took the grand prize, a $20 gift certificate, for his Rosetta, which looks like a tulip. He won the Best Pour category.

“I have an espresso machine at work, so as an amateur I give it a shot every day,” Mesa said. “It’s hard on a home machine to get the foam to the right consistency though.”

He said it was fun to get to use foam from a professional machine because it’s much easier to draw with.

“I love the fact that they get the correct texture of the milk and hand it off — so you just get to do the fun part,” Mesa said.

Other winners were Marc Neidlinger, for Most Improved; Noranne Clayton, for Never Say Die (an award for persistence); and Mary Catherine Burpee, for “Best Interpretation.”

The winning pours have been posted to the coffee shop’s Facebook album:

Bits ’n’ Pieces appears Mondays and Fridays. If you have a story you’d like to share, call Courtney Sherwood 360-735-4561, or e-mail