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The time we ate everything at the Calgary Stampede

I was so excited to go to the Calgary Stampede, really really excited. I planned my entire summer around it, and told everyone I was going. By the time it finally rolled around, I couldn’t handle the excitement!

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The day started off really well with a Stampede Breakfast – for two weeks, all around town, you can have a free pancake breakfast. We ended up at one place that made bacon pancakes, which was a bit of a dream come true.

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We got to the stampede, and I was really excited because the first sign that we saw was for all kinds of fried food – I would finally be able to try things that I had only heard about!

Highlights of the Stampede included: pretending to birth a calf, a pretty cool water show, the opening act to the rodeo (not really the rodeo itself, that was kind of sad and scary) and meeting Walk Off the Earth. Turns out that the Stampede is pretty much one big fair, and I probably wouldn’t plan on going again unless I was in Calgary at exactly the right time.

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Otherwise, the most exciting part of the stampede was the food. We decided to photo document our food journey. As a team, we ate pizza, poutine, mac and cheese, chicken on a stick, schnitzel, frozen yogurt with all the toppings, cotton candy, donuts, and fried snickers and mars bars. Not bad for a day’s work! Our biggest regret is that we weren’t able to try the fried butter.

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When splurging is worth it

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I’m traveling across Western Canada for work this summer – that post is slowly being written. In the meantime, I’m sitting having breakfast in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and I’m going to chat about splurging!

While all of my summer travels are expensed as work trips, I work for a non profit and I really believe that it’s important to spend my budget reasonably. Also, the less I spend, the more I can travel throughout the year! Since this is summertime and the weather is beautiful, I decided to travel mostly by bus. I flew from Vancouver to Calgary, then bussed from Calgary to Edmonton, and Edmonton to Saskatoon. I’m getting a ride from Saskatoon to Regina, and finally will be bussing from Regina to Winnipeg, before flying from Winnipeg to Vancouver in August.

Everywhere I go, I am taking public transit, staying in hostels or university dorms, and eating at people’s houses or cooking for myself. I did, however, budget for the entire meal allowance that I’m allowed, which gives me a lot of wiggle room, and brings us to the point of this blog post!

Yesterday, I took the bus from Banff to Edmonton, which took about 5 hours. Then, I waited in Edmonton for 6 hours before boarding a 7 hour bus to Saskatoon. I arrived this morning at 6:30, much too early to check in to my university accommodation. I decided to head out and by to find breakfast, but that’s also a bit tricky at 6am. The first place I saw was the Holiday Inn – their breakfast buffet is $15, and includes fruit, yogurt, cereal, bacon, sausage, hash browns, eggs Benedict 3 ways, and a pot of coffee right at the table. The table has its own tv (royal baby news on all the channels this morning), and power outlets.

Who could ask for more? So, while I usually try to spend under $10 when I have to pay for breakfast, often spending just $4 at Tim Hortons, today I decided that I deserve the extra bit of luxury.

I might – might – also go for a massage (12km mountain hike + 12 hour bus ride), but that’ll be with my own money, of course 🙂

When do you decide to splurge, and when do you decide to save?


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On making your favorite foreign dishes at home (don’t)

Hypothesis: I can make Mole Poblano at home

In 2003, I spent three months in Mexico, where one of the traditional dishes is Mole. When I first had it, I thought it was the worst thing ever, but it wasn’t long before it became my favourite meal. I’ve only ever had the real things once since coming back, when a friend brought some back from a trip to Mexico, so I decided that now was the time to make it myself. I made it once in Mexico, in preparation for the day of the dead festivities (it was a three day, multi-ingredient process), so I figured that I could fumble my way through making it here. I browsed the internet, used four different recipes to put together an ingredient list that resembled my days in Mexico, and got to work. Mole is not easy work!

This is what the mole looked like about half way through blending all the ingredients.

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Thank god I had made it before, otherwise I would have been REALLY concerned.

Anyway! I put it all through the food processor (if any of you ever attempt to make this at home, don’t believe them when they say that a blender will do. It won’t, and you’ll just have to wash extra dishes), and put it in the Crock Pot, as per Martha‘s instructions.

Result 

– It’s only the second time I’ve used my slow cooker, so maybe I just don’t know it well, but the edges kept burning, so my mole has an (unintentional) burny taste to it

– It’s lumpy – as fine a job as the food processor did, it can’t break up the nuts as well as a good old fashioned Mexican mill can

– It’s really sweet

– It’s not spicy enough (even though I used 12 peppers, of 4 different varieties)

– There’s a large pot of slightly off mole sitting in my fridge that I will likely not eat

Conclusion: I ain’t never making it again

Take it from me: if you want genuine, delicious Oaxacan mole, go to Oaxaca, or go to this website – Phil has offered me the BEST customer service that I have ever received, and I will be getting a few containers of genuine Oaxacan Mole Soledad in the mail in 2-4 weeks.

 


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Comfort food

You know, my life isn’t always glamorous travel. I know, it’s hard to believe, especially considering that I’ve been to Regina not once, but twice this year. But hey, even the most ardent globe trotters among us sometimes get laid low.

Between San Francisco, and my staff training the day after I got back, I got really tired and I caught a cold. I know, you’re scoffing. A cold! Guys, I’m sick all the time. But this time, I was a HUGE baby about it. I stayed in bed for three days (but hey, I still got work done! Just… lying down, with naps every couple of hours).

Dishes piled up in my kitchen. I was reduced to microwaving bagels for meals, because 1. it’s one of the few meals that doesn’t require a plate, and the only appliance that was still accessible behind my wall of dirty dishes, and 2. thirty seconds is about as long as I was able to spend standing up.

Today, after spending 3 hours working from bed, I napped for about two hours. I woke up feeling a bit better, and tackled my wall of dishes. My reward was one of my all-time comfort foods, egg and bread soldiers. Yes, it would have been better if my dad had prepared it for me (isn’t that always the way?), but it still made me feel better… The only thing missing are banana popsicles, but since there is no one is here to go out for me, they’ll have to wait.

What’s your failproof, feel better comfort food?

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The actual best ever banana chocolate chip muffins. I’m not kidding.

Because travel was the original point of this blog, I always feel a bit awkward posting things on here that have nothing to do with travel. Like that time I posted about knitting. That was weird.

Then again, I’m not doing that much travelling these days, unless you count Saskatoon (…) and this blog is about where I am, and I am spending more time at home. I’m enjoying the benefits of doing so – I get to make my own food (Oh yeah! I’ve posted about bagels, too!) and spend a lot of time knitting (but no more posts, I promise).

Anyway. I wasn’t going to post about baking again, but then I made these muffins. And they just blew my mind.

You guys probably don’t know that my muffineer career started a long, long time ago. You see, when I was 12 and lived in Sweden, I started a little business for a summer, selling muffins at my dad’s office. Anyway – I’m an old muffin pro, and it takes a lot to impress me. Well, these sure did. The recipe is basically this one, but I use less sugar, and substitute mayo for the eggs (as instructed by Google, on a day that I started making muffins without checking to see if I had eggs). I also use more bananas, add milk chocolate chips, and make them in mini muffin moulds (because that’s just more fun). The result is a little bit ridiculous.

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It usually takes less time to bake miniature things, so if you feel like making these, they are usually done after about 17 minutes.

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Don’t judge me on account of my bananas. I keep buying them and forgetting to eat them, and now my freezer is full of them.
The muffins really are better with fresh bananas.

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What do you turn to for positive reinforcement? Part 2

Today has been a grumpy day. My work bestie has just found a new job, and that leaves me feeling a bit lost and lonely. I just changed all my car insurance over to BC, and found out it’s going to cost me $250 a month to insure my car. It’s raining. I had to do budgets at work. Wah wah.

I’m getting on my nerves, and probably on Facebook’s nerves also.

So, this put my recent post about positive reinforcement to the test – what am I going to turn to to feel better? It’s too cold and rainy for the beach, and I’m tired of my own company. I’m also tired of screens – computer, tv, cell phones. Also also, I’ve decided to make this a ‘buy nothing’ month – I need to get my finances in order, if I’m going to be paying that much for car insurance. So, I need to find free activities that’ll cheer me up. I’m not sure what I’m going to do this weekend, but I’ve written off this workday, and I’ve decided to make bagels. And take pictures.

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Oh! And then I went to the beach 🙂

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I hate vegetables, part 2

My mum has always made things from scratch. We never had cake or anything made from a mix, we always had homemade jam and spaghetti sauce, my dad came back from trips with amazing recipes, etc. etc. I now realize that not every family is like that, and I feel pretty lucky.

On the other hand, my family likes to eat out a lot. We go to the restaurant at least once a week. In the past, I’ve been known to eat out every day.

Then, I started working for Katimavik. The kids made all our meals from scratch, and we had all our meals together. Not only did I lose a lot of weight, but I saved a lot of money. And I felt better. (They also made me eat vegetables. Yech.)

Since I moved here, I haven’t been eating out as much. I don’t have much money, and Gibsons is pretty small, with limited options for restaurants, but tons of farmers’ markets. Hence my previous post, about looking for inspiration to eat in. I just got a new kitchen table that I’m a little bit a lot in love with, and I think that it’ll help. My friend Vanessa also told me about this great blog, http://noteatingoutinny.com/.

The author of the blog wrote this pretty sweet article :

Cathy Erway: Top 9 Reasons For Not Eating Out.

 

Keep those recipes and blogs coming folks!