Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cauliflower Pizza, or How to Fumigate the House

I live with men who pale at the thought of a vegetarian supper  (read: ashen and gasping for breath).   No way would they even entertain the thought of a cauliflower crust pizza.  It happened that I was home alone on a Sunday evening and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try out the new recipe.

Back in the day, TV recipes almost always produced an embarrassing occasion.  Never, ever would we be caught serving and untried TV recipe to company on the Sunday evening!  These days, it's when I find a recipe on Facebook that I get in trouble. 

The first hurdle I had to clear, was the fact that I have no working food processor.  Is this chopped finely enough?

After chopping the cauliflower by hand, to minuscule, tiny pieces, it had to steam for 15 minutes. My entire house reeked of cooking cauliflower.  As it turns out, this was the MAJOR drawback of the whole exercise. My second problem is, my house is not equipped with gas masks.

The smell dissipated some, or I became innurured to it. Cheese and basil pesto now wafted through the air. How bad could it be? Pizza is pizza, right? Have a glass of wine and....  You know, I cook with wine. From time to time, I even added to the food.

The moment of truth.   I was starving. I couldn't wait until it cooled to became "a foldable pizza crust".  Initial reactions were: I need a fork, this is a veggie medley with cheese, it's certainly edible, nothing like pizza! Good thing the guys weren't here.  I won't make this one again.

Let's have another glass of wine.

When I woke up burping cauliflower gas at 3am, I decided: I definitely will not be making this again!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Off Grid Beauty

In my last post, I alluded to a cabin with no water or electricity.  Today I want to tell you about it.  It's not mine--I was privileged to spend a weekend there and I was blown away.

High on the side of a mountain, open to grazing cattle, deer and bears, this snug, log cabin is a refuge from city life.  A place to practice a simpler life.  An oasis of quiet, communing with nature and a challenge to living off-grid.

Water and energy conservation rise to a higher level here:  "If it's yellow, let it mellow..." goes even further.  Want a shower?  Need a bath?  Let's make the 20 minute drive to Radium Hot Springs and take a dip.

A new, deep well is in the plans.  Check out this professional Water Witcher.  He claims to be quite accurate in locating underground water.

As far as electricity, a hard working generator comes into play during the breakfast and supper hours. No TV, no stereos, no electric toothbrushes.  Thank goodness for the wood stove and polar down slippers.  People resort to old-fashioned play and get creative when 21st century options are out of the question.

Outdoor play leans towards clearing rocks, chopping and stacking wood, hiking, collecting water and archery...not the usual urban pursuits.

Tree forts anyone?

Careful, extensive planning is in the works for a solar installation that would allow for modern appliances, like a working fridge, a microwave and a deep freezer for food storage.  Until then, there is an abundance of free firewood.

Adjacent to the property, active logging operations are ongoing.  Once the desirable trees are logged out, what remains is gathered into enormous piles and eventually burned.
I was told, this IS NOT clear cutting.  What do I know????

Down the mountain and below the logging areas, is the Columbia River.  This 150 km. long, continuous wetlands is the longest in North America.  All the migratory birds of the Rockies are regular visitors here.

The logging haul is used, practically onsite, to produce plywood, which is stockpiled next to the railroad for shipment, all against the glorious backdrop of mountain vistas.

We went hiking.  April, mountains, snow.  Wonderful sunshine and four-wheel drive trucks made for a pleasant trip.

We found some it from a dog relative, like a wolf maybe?

 The views are breathtaking!

We met a truck descending the mountain as we made our way up.
-You going up to the mud????

-We thought we'd go to the top, our driver said.

-You won't make it.  I had all four wheels spinning.  It was hopeless.

-What'cha doing up this way, asked our guide?

-Well, I won the draw this year, at last!  I'm hunting Grizzlies.  I'm after a particular big, bad guy.  If I don't get HIM, then I don't want any at all.
We ventured on, passed the Grizzly Hunter's tracks, but didn't make it all the way to the top.  We didn't see any Grizzlies either, thank goodness.

Mountain Men, my collection:

Snack time around the fire...

which led to silly pursuits:  Pile on Grandpa!
It was deliciously warm in the sun, by the fire.  Some people even thought they should hide in the shade.

The exciting weekend was over too soon.  We headed down the mountain and back to civilization (although, I would say, life in this cottage is pretty civilized.)
What about you?
Could you go off-grid?
Would you live in the wilderness with the wildlife on your doorstep?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Banff Springs Hotel

Oh, the mountains!  Given a choice between living in the mountains or the sea side, I'd be hard pressed to decide.  When I'm there, the Rockies are an imposing force in the landscape.  They take my breath away.  I love it!  But....   I think I am really an ocean, seaside kind of girl at heart.  That being said, I had a spectacular visit out west recently and I just had to share the beauty with you all.

After the hustle and bustle of the boating drama (selling our boat of 15 years and saying goodbye to the cruising lifestyle), we were ripe for the luxurious pampering the Banff Springs Hotel offered us.  The staff were unfailingly courteous and kind, helpful and knowledgable.  At one point, I was surprised to rise my head from putting the dog in his den in the backseat of the rental car, to find a sweet young man holding the front door of the car open for me to get in.  Chivalry is not dead!  This resort/hotel is ranked #1 out of 31 hotels in Banff.

The Banff Springs Resort is part of the worldwide Fairmont Chain.  We gladly signed up for the President's rewards program.  Who knows...maybe our bucket list could have all the Fairmonts in the world on it.  Wouldn't that be nice.

Of course our room had a view.  Where isn't there a view in the Rockies????

The buffet breakfasts spoil one for choice.  For a person who really doesn't LIKE breakfast, it was a special treat.

The hotel was opened June 1888 when the Canadian Pacific Railroad had made it West.  Renovations and additions started in 1911 and seem to be ongoing.  The original portions of the edifice resemble a castle in the mountains.

There are stories of ghosts, particularly a bride who fell on the stairs and broke her neck on her wedding night, but we missed her this trip.

The views from every window are breathtaking!  Even the windows themselves have a certain charm.

The aura of bygone years peeks out at every turn.

With nearly two dozen restaurants and lounges on site, one is hard pressed to choose just one.  

The dress code is resort casual, but being from fashion-forward Ontario, I just HAD TO have dresses for my two evenings out.  Hubby sort of sprung this treat on me on our way from the airport.  All I had were mountain cabin things.  You know, the mountain cabin with no water or electricity, kind of clothes????  

-How about two days in the Banff Springs Hotel?  Do you think they have pet-friendly rooms?
-Not likely, I thought. phone call later,
-Why yes, all our rooms are pet-friendly!

We made reservations at the Waldhaus Alpine Restaurant for our first night.
I also snaffued a nice shirt and tie for my man.

Hubby loved his meal, but unfortunately, I turned mine back.  The Weiner schnitzel was pounded so thin, it resembled a potato chip!!!  The white wine was delicious, and as we had devoured hors d'heurves in our room before hand, I didn't go hungry.  (Apologies for the spelling.  Even the computer doesn't know how to spell it.)

The next morning dawned in a brilliant display of pinks and golds.  Nelson was up for a hike and we were happy to oblige him.  The Bow River Falls trailhead started a short walk from the hotel. 

The wild life know no bounds in Banff.  Elk and long horned sheep are everywhere.  I could hardly resist reaching out to feel the soft velvet of this Buck's new antlers.  I remained on my side of the fence, but later, people told me how easily he could have jumped over and attacked me if he had felt threatened.  Thank goodness for zoom lenses.

My heart thrilled to see our Canadian Flag, vibrant against the backdrop of the snowy mountains.

My second new dress from the delightful Four Dangerous Dolls dress shop.  It can be worn either forward or backward.  The uneven hemline is jazzy.  A great, draping fabric that will travel well and is sooooo fun to wear.  The shoes on the other hand, a cheapie deal from the consignment store in Canmore, nearly killed me!  The price we pay for glamour.

We were fortunate to get reservations at Three Ravens Restaurant in the Banff Centre on our second night.  My meal was INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!!  Their world-class chef outdid himself.  I was in gourmet heaven.

Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, life post-boat goes on.  The pictures, the stories continue.  While there is life, there is hope.   Life's challenges (believe it or not, I don't tell you everything) never fail to give us grief, but remaining Steadfast in faith, love and adventure, we will greet each new day with anticipation and joy. Do leave comments to let me know you are reading and hopefully enjoying the blog.  I enjoy recounting the fun.