August 31, 2010

Travels: Penticton Blenz Coffee and Gilligan's Ice Cream

We arrived in Penticton by mid-afternoon and we immediately shed our clothes and donned our bathing suits and hit the beach. The sun was strong, instantly working the melatonin in our skin. We had slathered the kids and ourselves up with UV protection and set up our blankets for lounging.

This is where it made a turn in the bad direction.

I'm not one who burns, in regards to tanning. (I'm guessing you know where this is going?) I'll slowly turn browner except for maybe the tip of my nose and my hairline. I also don't make any effort in tanning either, it's just not my thing and the Edmonton weather isn't really conducive for tanning.

Imagine my surprise when, come next morning, I put on my bathing suit to see my pale, glowing-white thighs next to BRIGHT red, burned bikini line. (Didn't expect that now, did you?) I guess I didn't slather up my nether regions enough. I tell you I was a sight for sore eyes. You could easily pick me out of a crowd on the beach. How embarrassing. But the story doesn't end there. Oh no, I never do things simply.

Blenz Coffee Drinks

First, we were headed to Blenz Coffee. My brother-in-law fell in love with the place with his business trips to Vancouver. He insisted that we have a Coffee Mocha. It was good but I've never actually had a bad mocha. (Ok, maybe once but that's because it wasn't served hot enough. Bleh.) We bought the kids a Strawberry Ice Cream Fruitchillo. Hello! Delicious! (Wonder how long it takes to get a Blenz to Alberta? I'm sure soon enough.)

Off from Blenz, we head back to the beach where me and a metal park bench get into a scrap. (Bet you didn't see THAT coming). I had turned around to see if one of the kids was following close behind, didn't see the bench and whacked my thigh into it. As I'm keeled over in utter pain, keeping all the colorful profanities from spewing and falling onto young children's ears, I feel a large bump rising. Back at the beach, I unclothe to find a large tennis-sized bruise, purpley-blue-black, a short distance away from the burned-carnage that was once my bikini line. (Oh bother, what a great way to start our vacation.)

Eating Ice Cream At Gilligan's in Penticton
With jokes pointed in my direction of some sort of UFC death match fight with myself and the park bench (my bets are on the bench), we headed to our one of many trips to Gilligan's Ice Cream.

Boasting 60 flavors, supplied by the Foothills Creamery, we enjoyed ourselves one too many times here. With a price of $2.50 for a giant scoop, it was a huge steal! The ice cream is very good, a short walk down from the north shore of Penticton's Skaha Lake. I highly recommend you cool down from the hot Okanogan heat with a stop here.

And remember, slather up with sunscreen the regions that never see light and don't mess with any park benches. I'm lucky I lived to tell you about it.



...

Blenz Coffee
284 Main Street
Penticton, BC

Gilligan's Ice Cream Shop
Main floor of Beachside Motel
3624 Parkview St
Penticton, BC

August 30, 2010

Travels: Penticton, BC's Fruit and Vegetable Stands and a stop at Summerland Sweets and Sleeping Giant Store

Back from the Beach

We are back from our vacation and pangs of sorrow are kicking in.

It certainly doesn't help that we came home to damp, frigid temperatures. I spent a week, soaking up the heat radiating from the sun rays, with the hot, grainy sand squishing through my toes and curling up with a good book under an umbrella with beautiful scenery surrounding me, without a drip of responsibility calling me. Sounds like paradise, doesn't it? Sure beats my day today, or more correctly, sure beats any day.

We spent an entire week on the beaches of Pentiction. We rented a house that was literally a stone's throw from the beach. I have never, ever been able to just lounge on the beach for an entire day (no, I'm not a Type-A but more a very busy Type-B personality) much less an entire week but I must of really needed to fill my energy tank reserves.

BC Farm Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Stands

Taking short breaks from the beach, we made excursions to BC's plentiful fruit and vegies stands. Penticton itself didn't have any of these stands (imagine my surprise), instead hosting a farmer's market once a week, thus, we found ourselves driving out to Summerland or Naramata to take in fresh fruit and vegetables.

We filled our baskets with ripe, tart plums and fat, juicy peaches. BBQ grilled corn on the cob and sweet, ruby-red tomatoes paid visits to our dinner plates often this week.

On one trip out, we paid a visit to Brian and Elsa, from our very memorable stay at the Glenoka bed and breakfast last year and left with the most succulent blackberries I have ever eaten in my entire life. I kid you not, if you can imagine what ambrosia from the gods tastes like, then you got a pretty close idea of what these blackberries did for my tastebuds with every pop into my mouth. Heaven. Sweet, tantalizing heaven.

Summerland Sweets and Cherry Orchard

One cannot go through Summerland without paying a visit to Summerland Sweets and the Sleeping Giant Wine Store. Numerous jars of fruit jams, syrups and honey were bought up so to be enjoyed throughout our chilly winters here in Edmonton. Not to mention bottles of fruit wines that were purchased but also imbibed during our week stay too.

Don't you wish you could have an al fresco lunch or dinner in that above orchard? How divine.

The Okanogan is truly a glorious piece of paradise in Canada. I just wished I lived closer to it.


August 13, 2010

Off to the Ocean and Mountains

Off to the Ocean and Mountains

I thought about auto-scheduling some blogposts before I left but I haven't gotten around to it. I even thought about posting while chillaxin in my lounge chair at the ocean, with sand stuck in regions that never sees the light of day but then I thought, nah, forget-about-it. Knowing me, I'd likely spill my drink all over the keyboard.

Instead, I think I will enjoy the next several weeks being (mostly) unplugged and really relax. (As relaxing as it gets with children - sigh).

I'm going to eat fresh fruit, right off of a tree. I'm going to jump for joy eating ripened-on-the-vine tomatoes and corn on the cob, just picked, with a sprinkle of salt. And after a day at the beach, I shall eat an ice cream or two and not care one iota how many calories there are. AND I will have a glass or two (or three -shhhh) of some wonderful local wine.

So I bid you adieu for now. Enjoy my blog archives. Talk amongst yourselves. Leave me random comments. Send me an email letting me know how envious you are :)

British Columbia, here I come!!!

August 12, 2010

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

A short while ago, my mom celebrated her birthday and I decided to make her a birthday cake. I opted for the strawberry shortcake this time. Something light to go along with birthday dinner.

It was a lovely cake. I found the cake layers fluffy with a nice citrus flavor. And who doesn't like whipping cream and strawberries!

This recipe wasn't hard to make but it sure will use EVERY bowl in your house. I used FIVE. My counters couldn't be seen at all. Crazy.

Strawberry Shortcake Birthday

Aside: I didn't have enough whipping cream so I didn't add any to the top layer (tsk, tsk) but you will have enough with the 2 cups asked for in the recipe.

...

Strawberry Shortcake
serves 12

cake:
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp orange or lemon extract
3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
5 eggs
3/4 cup sugar

filling:
2 cups whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups sliced strawberries + (whole strawberries to garnish top - optional)


Heat milk and butter together until melted. Add orange extract. Set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Separate 3 eggs and beat the egg whites until foamy. Add 1/4 cup sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the remaining 2 eggs yolks, 2 eggs and 1/2 cup sugar. Beat until fluffy for a good 5 minutes. Fold in egg whites. Fold in dry ingredients. Pour in the milk mixture and fold in.

Spread the mixture into a rectangular rimmed baking sheet (I used a 17.25 x 11.5 inch sheet) lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350F for 12 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack. Once cool, cut the cake into 3 equal cake layers.

To make the filling, whip the cream, sugar and vanilla.

Place one layer onto the serving plate. Top with whipping cream and sliced strawberries. Repeat until all cake layers, whipping cream and strawberries are used. Garnish the top with whole strawberries and dust with icing sugar(optional).

Recipe adapted from: Strawberry Shortcake, The Complete Canadian Living Cookbook.

August 10, 2010

Edmonton's Ikea Breakfast

Ikea $1 Breakfast

I don't live close enough to the Ikea to warrant the drive for their breakfast. But, I was in need of something specific and we decided to start our shopping day with it's famous $1 breakfast.

I've never had the breakfast before. Folks, I am so very surprised.

The above picture cost $1. ONE dollar! The coffee was free too! (only for the first hour of opening, I believe). I felt a little like this video.



My favorite part of the meal was the hashbrowns. They were nicely browned, wonderfully salted and moist on the inside. The sausages were really tasty too which I couldn't believe because a lot of the times when we do breakfasts out and about, they give you those tasteless things, but these sure weren't. The only thing I wouldn't eat was the eggs. It was not edible, in my opinion, unless you smother it with ketchup first and then it's still a real chore. But, I would still come for just the hashbrowns and sausages.

Thanks Ikea. Totally astounded you offer such a deal but then, when I come, I do drop some coin at the store. Ahhhh, that's called Marketing 101. Yeah, Ikea, I get it, Swedish for Common Sense.

Ikea Edmonton
South Edmonton Common
1311-102 St. NW
Edmonton, Alberta
T6N 1M3

PS: Ikea's 2011 Canadian Catalogue is out! I LOVE looking through their catalogues every year. Here is the online version if you can't wait for the hard copy or are the environmentally-friendly sort.


August 9, 2010

Weekly Photos: Edmonton Cariwest Parade 2010

Edmonton Cariwest Parade 2010

The fam and I headed out to the Cariwest parade. Great costumes, body-moving beats and energetic people. A great reason to get out and head downtown.

August 6, 2010

Weekly Photos: Edmonton's Capital Ex

Edmonton Capital Ex

I can't resist. Thought I'd share a couple of Capital Ex photos of my kids on rides.

We spent 7 hours there. SEVEN! We basically followed our kids from ride to ride. I told the hubby that I would pay someone $20 an hour to chaperone. Seven hours is a long time and that would be great money for someone but I have to admit, I love seeing their screaming, happy faces going on all the different rides.

We ate cotton candy and candy apples. I know we bought some food too but for the life of me, I CAN NOT remember. Obviously, must not have been memorable.

Cotton Candy and Candy Apples


We did get around to watching super dogs for a bit. That was fun though my kids kept asking to go back. My kids are total ride junkies. They love the thrill. A lot of the times, they had their hands up in the air, not even holding on and screaming. haha. They said the Dragon roller coaster was their fave.

Edmonton Capital Ex Dragon Ride

My back and legs hurt like crazy that night. It was worth it though. Especially as we were leaving, my daughter said to me "Mom, that was the BEST day ever."

Have a good weekend folks!

August 5, 2010

Watermelon Sorbet

Watermelon Sorbet

I do this all the time, I don't think I will ever learn.

I'll be perusing the grocery store aisles when suddenly, looky-looky, they have watermelons on sale, any size, all for the same price. Did you read that? One price, any size.

Of course, I get giddy, I want to get the most bang for my buck. So you'll find me, nearly falling in, as I lean into the huge containers that hold the watermelons, scoping out the largest watermelon that is available. I'll be shuffling huge melons around until I find the biggest one, all the while, my children chanting, "that one Mom, that one is the BIGGEST" with my back muscles starting to spasm. I then hoist this big beast into my cart, strategically placing it so that it doesn't roll around and then notice the large smears of dirt left on the chest of my shirt. Sure, I'm look crazed to others, as I'm beating my chest clean like Tarzan of the Supermarket Jungle, but, no worries, it's all worth it. At least I think it's worth it at the time.

Day 1, we are gorging on watermelon, so excited by the taste and we eat as much as we want. You sneak pieces here and there throughout the day, even though you ate plenty already that by the end of the night, your belly is busting and your bladder is replenishing just after emptying it. It also tends to happen that I buy these humungo watermelons when I have absolutely no one stopping by my house. No one to share slices with leaves us so very done with watermelon by day 2 or 3. Done, done, done.

But I have found one solution to my watermelon woes. Sorbet! YAY! And it's very tasty. Great way to use up that huge watermelon!

This, of course, does not teach me to stop buying large watermelons in the first place, but I think I kinda like the thrill of the supermarket hunt.

Meet you at the watermelon bin. Just remember, I call dibs.

...

Watermelon Sorbet
makes 1 liter

3 cups pureed watermelon (I used a food processor to puree)
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 tbsp lime juice
1-2 tablespoons vodka, optional

Heat 1/2 cup of the pureed watermelon juice with 1/2 cup of sugar in a pan, stirring often, to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat.

Stir in the remaining pureed watermelon, lime juice and vodka.

Let cool in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Mix in a ice cream maker, according to manufacturer's instructions. Pour into a shallow rectangular dish and place in the freezer until fully frozen.

Recipe adapted from: Watermelon Sorbetto, The Perfect Scoop.

August 4, 2010

Edmonton's Heritage Festival - 2010

It wasn't our plan to go to the Heritage Festival this year. It was 9 o'clock in the morning when my brother-in-law called and said that their family was heading out.

I stumbled downstairs in my pajamas, all groggy, from my sleep about 15 minutes after that phone call and my hubby mumbles something about going to the festival, while packing backpacks, to meet his brother's family but we have to leave right away.

Yeahhhhh. Have I ever mentioned that I am NOT a morning person?

The next thing I remember, I am in the passenger seat of our car with an insulated to-go coffee cup in hand and kids in the backseats screaming about bouncy castles.

Ahhh, the joys of family life.

Heritage Days Festival2

After spending 30 minutes losing track of which bouncy castles my kids were in and what animals they want to have their face painted like, I felt my stomach growl. I didn't have breakfast.

The years before, we always tried different foods, something out of the ordinary, for us. This year, we decided to go with things we knew and liked.

So, we bee-lined it to the Hungarian tent for langos topped with garlic salt. The Hungarian tent is the only one that actually serves this fried bread dough with the option of garlic salt, while others only offer icing sugar.

As I was sprinkling the garlic salt, the lady at the table asked me a question in which I didn't understand. I had to pull the "excuse me?" card. She was apparently speaking in Hungarian, and then spoke in English...

"Are you Hungarian? Because the Hungarian's like to eat langos with garlic salt".

"No, but many of the Slavic countries like their fried dough savoury too." I reply. I grew up eating fried dough, or mekice as we call it, with creamy feta and olives.

Heritage Days Festival

We also picked up the poppy seed cake there. Yes, we're picking out poppy seeds from our teeth the whole day and even the next day, but damn, it's so very worth it. So, so good.

The stop at the Canadian Pavilion was pretty disappointing. We ordered the poutine and the fries, they were pale. They were under-fried and not crispy. THE HORROR! But the gravy and curds were good but man, you got to get the fries right.

And we ended the day with some lemon and raspberry gelatos from the Italian tent. Yum.

All and all, a good outing. Edmonton's Heritage Festival is great for families (lots of kid things to do) and a great way to get out and spend the day. Walking from tent to tent, you see everyone having a good time, people genuinely happy to serve you and smiles shared with people getting together to celebrate all the different cultures. It's wonderful that our city does this every year and that people dedicate their time and labor to make it such a great festival.

Edmonton Heritage Festival
William Hawrelak Park
9930 Groat Road

Don't forget! There is no parking on-site. You will need to walk/bike or take the ETS (they have park 'n ride programs).

August 3, 2010

Blue(berry) Monday Tuesday

Breakfast yogurt, granola and fresh blueberries

It's been one of those weeks, a very long and busy one. Long weekends just add more crazy to it all. I'm tired.

We've hardly been home much but my house is a disaster. Every time you come home, you drop a heap of stuff and then head off right away. Dirty dishes, loads of laundry and the need to vacuum. Yikes.

As I'm typing this, the kids are talking about cleaning their rooms so they can vacuum it. HA. Love this age, where they think vacuuming is so cool.

So, no time today for a recipe post just some photo p0rn instead.

Blueberries are around folks. I (heart) blueberries. They are equal in my love for raspberries, though, they might nudge out raspberries a bit because they don't have all those little seeds.

Man, how is it Tuesday already? I swear it's Monday!!! Damn you long weekend, I need one more day this week.

PS: The granola is homemade and it's in my archives, found here
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