August 31, 2008

mon dieu!

it's daring baker time once again, this round brought to us by meetak and tony tahhan. their choice? an ode to meeta's sugar daddy: Pierre Hermé's chocolate eclairs. you can find the recipe (too long for me to post here, or you can buy the book at amazon!) at one of their sites. click here to see what other db's have come up with! i didn't have any real problems with this month's challenge, nor, unfortunately do i have any quirky stories to share from my pastry's point of view. i chose to do the recipe as is. i've made choux pastry before. i've made pastry cream before. i've made ganache. i'm not complaining at all. practice, after all, makes perfect. i went to my local grocery and picked up a pound of callebault dark chocolate. yes, my local grocer carries callebaut! i was torn between the dark and milk. i like milk and white chocolate, and derek likes dark.
my only problems with the recipe was with making the glaze, or ganache. following the directions it was very runny, and there was no way i could "spread the glaze with a metal spatula" as was stated. solution: i stuck it in the freezer until it was the right consistency.
the eclairs were enjoyed by all, but i don't think i'll make them again.

August 25, 2008

pretty as a peach

on our camping trip, we kept an eye out for roadside fruit stands. i mean, we were so close to the okanagan there was bound to be at least one fruit stand... and there was, but it was closed. damn! i really wanted some peaches, apricots, and cherries. the first thing when we got back, after all the laundry was done, i went online to our organics delivery, spud, and ordered me some okanagan peaches. i dug out my trusty retro pies and martha's baking handbook and had a quick flip through each, wondering which recipe tickled my fancy. martha wanted me to make a peach, apricot and cherry pie. doh! retro pies recipe was simple- and tasty. i do plan to make this again and next time i will add a spent vanilla bean to the mashed peaches while it's cooking. o, and next time i won't forget to put in my pie weights before it goes in the oven! lol!meriwether county glazed peach pie
retro pies by linda everett

6 cups firm ripe peaches, pared and sliced
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup orange juice
9-inch pie crust (use your favourite recipe)

preheat oven to 375 degrees F and bake pie crust for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
in a medium bowl, mash enough peaches to make 1 cup. set aside remaining sliced peaches. in a small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. stir in orange juice and mashed peaches. cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil, stirring occasionally. continue boiling for 1 minute longer. spread half of this glaze over the sides and bottom of the baked crust. fill with peach slices and pour remaining glaze over all. chill in refrigerator at least 3 hours. serve with whipped cream. serves 8.

August 23, 2008

birkenhead park

our last stop was birkenhead provincial park. talk about saving the best for last! wow! i only wish the weather was better. the lake is surrounded by mountains on all four sides, and those aren't small mountains either! all the sites seemed extremely private- there was lots of lower foliage to block the neighbours' views, and lots of larger trees for shade and to hang the tarp. there wasn't a site across from us, so that was nice. i kept hearing a strange noise though, sounded kinda like a highway, but there was no way i could hear that since to get to the park you had to drive a 17KM gravel road... so i did some investigating:
yup, the birkenhead river! right across from our campsite! wow!
the water system is still being installed and so we had to get our water the "ole fashioned way" and pump it. it was orange due to the amount of run-off from the mountains, and needed to be boiled, but it was fine for dish and hand washing. we did find a pipe from a diverted stream in the parking lot that had crystal clear ice cold water! mmm!even the outhouses were picturesque!on one of the sunny breaks we headed down to the lake trail to, well, the lake for fishing. just before you enter the trail there was a bear caution sign. yikes! ella was very excited to try fishing with her very own $9 canadian tire fishing rod. thank goodness derek isn't squeamish like me about worms. i can handle them if i have my gardening gloves on.
after an unsuccessful afternoon of fishing it was time to find the wood guy. we found him while walking sawyer and told him that we were at site #30. yay! we bought some chicken on the last grocery stop before coming into birkenhead and i just salt and pepper'd 'em and rubbed them with the oil that we brought from home. each fire pit has a grill attached to it and i just covered it up with some tinfoil, held it down with rocks, and watched the chicken cook:
i tell ya, i really got the hang of camp cooking by the last day!
after our wicked chicken dinner, we packed up the fishing gear again and headed back out to the lake. ella was determined to catch a fish, and once there was an audience larger than the family (early 20s guys and gals with beer and rods), she caught one! it was a bull trout, which is being replenished at birkenhead lake, and so we needed to put it back. we couldn't be more proud of her!!! awesome job, ella!
we'll definitely be heading back to birkenhead. be sure to bring some drinking water before you get there, and hang your tarps first!

August 17, 2008

monck park

monck provincail park was the next stop on our trip. we took the scenic route from manning and very much enjoyed both the weather and the winding roads with little or no traffic. if we had thought of it at the time, we probably would have stopped to fish at one of the many little lakes.

monck pp is set on the shores of nicola lake and has a playground for the kids, a great swimming area, flush toilets (no showers), and beautiful views to the lake from just about every campsite. unlike manning (and birkenhead) the campsites were not very private. yes, there's large pine trees lining the sites, but no lower brush or shrubs to shield other campers from view. not that we were doing anything we shouldn't be, but still- it's like living in glass houses. one of the other campers had 2 sites: one in front of us, and one in back, and so sawyer would bark (more like grunt) at all the teens going back and forth in the middle of the night cutting through our site to get to one of theirs. (also one of them had a guitar and it was driving me nuts for two reasons: 1) i didn't have mine, and 2) it was out of tune. i wish i could have brought one of mine.) that, would be the only negative of this park. the pic below is one derek took of a beautiful sunrise (aparently the colours aren't nearly as intense as irl), and if you click to enlarge, you'll see a single loon swimming.we did stop in merritt to pick up some groceries and ice for the cooler and while driving through their main street, we came across this amazing building. aparently some bank robber hid out there and stashed his loot way back in the goldrush days!the cherries from the okanagan are probably the best in the world:so juicy and sweet i had to take a pic!!!
another really nice thing about monck pp was the large grassy open area (obviously a septic system under it all) with two native pit house depressions, and where the kids could run around and dance:there was this really neat, really dead tree near our site. i took some pics of it with amazing clouds in the background:alas, it was time to go and move on to birkenhead (next post) via the duffy lake road and some other highway i can't remember. we stopped at duffy lake for a breather from the winding roads clinging to the sides of the mountains:

i think if we went to monck again, we'd hope to go with another family. it's a great space, but could be so much better with a larger group (not too large though) of people.

August 12, 2008

manning park

e.c. manning provincail park is located in the heart of the Cascade Mountains and it's within a three hour drive from Vancouver. of course it took us a little longer to get there since sawyer (our pup) thew up in the car, and we had to stop for lunch since we left later than we planned, but hey what can you do. once we got to the park and our site was chosen, we began to set up camp. we went for a quick walk and then came back and made our first dinner: annie's mac and cheese and hotdogs and carrots. (don't worry i got better at working that camp stove!the kids were so hungry they ate it all in 10 minutes or less!and of course after a long day, and once the fire was hot enough, we made s'mores. seth for some reason doesn't like his marshmallows too toasted.one of the things i liked most about manning was not the fact that there were showers (cold ones at that) but that the washrooms (those with flush toilets) were solar powered!the first morning i was woken by the sound of two loons calling eachother from across the lake. it's quite chilly in the tent in the mornings, even in august. be sure you have a good sleeping bag! the second morning i woke up early to take sawyer for a walk and when i got to the edge of the campsite i saw a deer faun leaping around from site to site. a moment later it's mother appeared. she saw me standing there by our car with the dog, although sawyer never saw anything playing with the slugs, stared at me for what felt like 5 minutes, calmly turned around and left around the corner, her faun leaping behind her. the picture below shows the deer, which looks much further than she really was. kinda reminds me of my christian bale siting at disneyland! lolwe walked around half of lighning lake from our campsite to where you could rent a canoe either by the hour or the day.after the canoe ride we hung out by the shore and had a snack and a drink while sawyer had his one and only romp in the water. after everything was packed up, trash and recycling safely in their bear-proof bins, we were off to the vista point which is across the highway and up the mountain. i don't much care for heights so i stayed back from the edge. waaaaay back lol! the kids, especially ella, wasn't fazed. it sure is beautiful up there:

all in all we had a great time at manning park and we'll probably venture there again.

August 11, 2008

not slacking

no, i haven't been slacking with my blogging, we just came back from a whirlwind camping trip! it was a lot of fun, and i took many photos.
we went to 3 different campsites and booked them all from the discover camping website, which is an amazing tool. our first stop was manning park near hope, and then monck park on nicola lake near merritt, and finally birkenhead park just north of pemberton.
there's a lot to share and i'll be writing it over 3 different posts so bear with me!