Basically: Cookies

The Basically Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookie test went off without a hitch and boy, did I learn a few things. I am a decent baker and my family loves what I make. I (humbly) brag that baking is my superpower. But wow… way to make me feel like I am a rookie Basically… Let me tell you what happened.

But first, you can find this week’s recipe here.

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The very first thing the instructions say is to read through the recipe so there are no surprises. I learned that from my mom when I was 10 and starting out as a rookie. It is super important in this recipe because you need to chill the cookie dough for two hours. This isn’t a quickie.

The second thing I did wasn’t in the recipe but I have watched enough Bon Appétit to know that room temperature eggs are important. I have never ever EVER used room temp eggs until this recipe. I put 3 eggs in a bowl and covered them in hot tap water while I melted the butter. It took about 5 minutes. While it was melting, not browning, I weighed my flour.

I had a scale that I received as a gift from my ex. To weigh my food. This was the beginning of my eating disorder. I have used the scale for cooking but I know the scale was a cheap thing and worked well enough for Weight Watchers but it isn’t precise. I bought the scale the BA test kitchen recommended on Amazon and it arrived two days later in a snow storm. I also purchased an oven thermometer. This was eye-opening as well, but I will get to that later.

Where were we? Right, the scale. It has a tare feature which is essential. I put the bowl on the scale, set the tare (which means it cancels out the weight of the bowl and the other ingredients so you can precisely measure the next ingredient), filled and levelled 1 cup of flour like Martha Stewart taught me. I needed 125g of flour. My one-cup measure was 150g.  25g MORE THAN I NEEDED. Ohhhkaaay… scooped out the extra flour. until it read 125g. Set the tare and added the buckwheat flour along with the rest of the dry ingredients. Set this aside.

Normally I would mix the wet ingredients and then sift the dry overtop. But I followed the instructions exactly as written. That meant separate bowls for everything. I put a new clean bowl on the scale, tossed in my melted butter. set the tare, added the sugars and whisked. This was also new for me. I would normally pull out the Kitchen Aid stand mixer and over beat until light and fluffy. The instructions called for 30 seconds of whisking. I set the timer and began. at the 15 sec mark, I thought I was done. but the timer said otherwise, so I kept going. It made a huge difference. It went from combined to glossy. This is the point where I thought I had whisked enough – nope.

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I added one egg and mixed until combined, then added the yolks one at a time.

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Here is what I learned about room temperature eggs.

  1. They are easier to separate, the white breaks free almost instantly.
  2. They break up like a dream.
  3. They combine almost instantly without the extra fuss of smashing the yolk to break the membrane.

Room temperature eggs make a huge difference!

Then I folded in the flour and gently combined to minimize gluten production. The batter felt light and delicate, never have I ever had delicate cookie batter. I folded in the coarsely chopped chocolate (I never would have bought good bittersweet chocolate before either. WOW is the only adjective that fits.)

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The batter is still wet at this point but is said to chill for two hours. I put a plate over the top of the bowl (please stop using single-use plastic) and popped it into the fridge.

Two hours later…

I hung the oven thermometer in my oven and preheated it 350F. When the oven reached the temperature I checked the thermometer.

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Ummmm yikes. I did some more reading and the thermometer recommended I wait for two cycles of the oven before checking again. My oven clicks as the elements turn on and off. I waited…

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Hoorah! I don’t know what I would have done if it didn’t work. Notice the elements are off and not red.

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I rolled the cookies as directed and added bonus chocolate to the cookie balls.  I didn’t use parchment because I am trying to reduce my use of single-use items. I put two sheets into the oven as directed and set the timer for 4 minutes. After four minutes passed, I switched the racks in the oven and checked the thermometer. Leaving the door open for a few short seconds dropped the temperature back down to 300F! Did everyone but me know oven temperatures were fickle? I pulled the cookies out at the 4-minute mark and decided they needed two more minutes because they were still wet looking.

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This was the point where you were supposed to sprinkle more salt. My kosher salt is not delicate nor do I have flaky salt. I live in Canada and don’t have the same brands the BA test kitchen suggested, Morton’s or Diamond salt, my salt would have been chunky so I omitted the extra salt. Good thing too. These cookies had enough salt/sweet contrast for me.

I had enough batter for two more cookies. So this time I baked them for eight minutes without opening the oven to achieve the soft chewie cookie. It worked! The cookie was much lighter in colour with two minutes less.

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But look at the oven temperature!

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When I bake my cookies I place one tray in at a time and keep the oven closed at all times. My first tray is 10 minutes, then I reduce the time, the last tray is 7 minutes. So I instinctively knew my oven was not consistent. It is 20 years old. After I replace my roof shingles, I think this is the next new purchase.

I learned so many new things! Not all sugar is created equal unlike what Chef Michael Smith said. Dark brown sugar will react differently to baking soda than light brown sugar. Plus it has a deeper molasses flavour. If that is what you want, do it! But the science of the dry ingredients changes, so be aware. Room temperature eggs are where it’s at and give your oven lots of time to preheat.

To recap, these are mine on the left and Basically on the right. The buckwheat gives an earthy nutty quality that is fine but not my favourite. I love the bittersweet chocolate more than I thought I would and the sweet/salty ratio is delicious! Would I make these again? Absolutely. These are not a snack cookie, its a one and done for dessert kind of cookie and the recipe only makes one dozen.

 

 

The recipe teaser for next week looks like some sort of quick bread. Perhaps banana bread. I am here for it! Let me know if you made this and how it turned out fo you.

 

Edmonton Tourist: Ritchie Market

I first went to the Ritchie Market a few years ago for a private function. Beira had just opened and we went for breakfast and enjoyed a special cask to celebrate the end of a beer run. The food was beautiful and the beer was delicious. Tiny little flowers dotted the plate – I wish I still had the photo. When I was there, Transcend wasn’t open yet and Acme Meats just started. this place was cute and charming.

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Fast forward to today, Biera is still going strong, Acme Meats had people lined up, Transcend coffee roasters were packed and the new kid on the block was all white and shiny and pretty.

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Little Duchess has now opened on the south side.

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Little Duchess isn’t as large as the location on 124 street, but it had all the things I look for in a great patissier, croissants, macarons, cookies and scones. They don’t bake onsite – but neither does its larger sister. Everything is baked offsite at their kitchen in the garment district so everything is EXACTLY THE SAME. They even have a small Provisions section, just like the other location.

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The hubs ordered a pain au chocolat and I had a raspberry white chocolate scone. We walked over to Transcend and decided against their amazing coffee because I already had a pot that morning, and we both ordered hot chocolate.

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If you didn’t know, Transcend is some of the best coffee in the city – likely because they are roasters. Fresh roasted locally is the next level in coffee. It is so good, but so is their hot chocolate. It is not overly sweet and they mix it by hand.

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They even place their signature leaf on top.

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Paired with the scone, I was in heaven.

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The hubs had demolished his croissant before I could grab a pic.

Acme meats were thriving and one day I think I will stop and bring something marvellous home. We joked about them only selling Road Runner.

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After our treats, we walked around the neighbourhood to see what was around. Did you know that Doughnut Party just opened a second location here? Perfect for us south siders. We each picked up a doughnut for home. It was a decadent day.

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Raspberry Earl Grey for me and Double Chocolate Brownie for the hubs.

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Before we hopped back into the car, I noticed Kind Ice Cream – I wasn’t really sure where it was but now I know how close it is to home! I will be back for SURE.

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This is exactly what this neighbourhood needed. I wish I was so lucky to live here.

What interesting places are near you? Get out and explore your city!

Basically

I am a rabid fan of the BA Test Kitchen. Chris Morocco and Carla Lally Music are, in my opinion, WIZARDS. They are magic and I basically worship them. The kitchen has a myriad of other chefs and I watch ALL of their segments each week, but I get super excited when Carla does back to back or they blindfold Morocco and he has to figure out just by taste and touch what the hell is in the recipe and recreated. That man is a SUPER TASTER. I follow all of them individually on Instagram and have chatted with Morocco on occasion (I squeal like a teenager when he replies to me) I am a super fan.

I learned a lot about cooking from my mom and baking from my aunty Mary Poppins (not her real name but her cookies were the best thing EVER). When I had a young family, I learned the science of why things are done a certain way from Martha Stewart. Humblebrag – baking is my superpower. Pies and cookies and my strength. I understand the science and I have a feel for it. I also love to bake. It is fun, relaxing and very satisfying.

Last week Basically ( a section on Bon Appetite magazine that basically teaches new cooks how to do it) announced they are doing a 10-week baking series.

Excuse me?

Ten weeks/Ten recipes of basic baking recipes to teach someone how to do it plus start out easy and work your way to something complicated.

This intrigued me.

Bon Appétit usually cooks and bakes with ingredients that I don’t tend to have on hand in my pantry. Sometimes I will go and gather ingredients to give the recipe a try. I am never disappointed. I decided I wanted to try this baking series and see what I can learn and how complicated do they make things. For example, am I going to have to dirty every single bowl in the house to make a cake? Are there tools I don’t have that they recommend? Like yes to all the questions I have. I am not so sure following their instructions – even if there are videos – is going to be a snap. But I am willing to try because I think it will be fun plus I need to try new foods, stuff that is healthier with less sugar etc. I have decided to take you along with me for the ride.

Today (Sunday, February 9, 2020) Basically dropped the first recipe. Buckwheat Chocolate Chunk Cookies. It told me a needed a few tools that I didn’t have. I decided to buy a new scale (mine has been brought to the mudroom to weigh out Captian’s food), and an oven thermometer. My oven is 20 years old and this past holiday season was a struggle to get the cookies right – I knew I needed a thermometer. I suspect 350 is actually 325 and that just won’t do. I am heading to the Bulk Barn to buy buckwheat flour – definitely an ingredient I don’t have. I am also going to look at their kosher slat. Mine is course – I will see if there is finer salt or maybe flaky salt for the cookie tops post-bake. I have everything else.

When Basically announced this series was coming, they gave a few other recipes to try to tie over my excitement. It’s like they knew me. I landed on Lemon Pound Cake to test to see if I might find this a fun project.

I followed the instructions exactly.

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I brought my butter to room temperature by putting it under a warm bowl.

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I zested the lemons without getting any pith in the bowl.

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I used a HAND MIXER – this I didn’t love. I prefer my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. The motor is going on my hand mixer so it may die before the series is over.

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Mine

I made the glaze even though I normally wouldn’t have. I did everything the way they told me to and I think I recreated the cake perfectly.

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Basically’s

My peeler needs to be replaced, it wasn’t as sharp as it needed to be but seriously – they look pretty close to identical.

My family ate two pieces each – so it passed the taste test.

Catch up with me next Sunday to see how the cookies went. If you are doing this with me – comment below or over on Facebook. We can talk about problems and successes.

WE CAN DO THIS!

Edmonton Tourist: Fox Burger

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A few weeks ago I went to June’s Deli located in the newly refurbed Gibbard Block. I peeked inside the shop next door and new I wanted to go there too. Since deciding I wanted to go, I have heard nothing but positive reviews with everyone saying “go try Fox Burger”.

Okay.

I went and it was delicious.

Something was wrong with me though, I couldn’t take a photo that wasn’t blurry… Perhaps it was because everything smelled so good it triggered my hunger glands. I focused mostly on eating and less about photos. In the end, that was a smart decision.

The hubs and I went on a Saturday night and I had been following Fox Burger on Instagram and knew about the reservation app. So …I made reservations for 5:00 p.m. That was smart because everyone who came in had to wait unless they had reservations.

We arrived with 5 minutes to spare and parked across the street. There is free evening and weekend parking for Fox Burger and June’s Deli in the lot across the street. Alternatively, there is residential parking. We crossed the street and saw someone punching in a code for the Airbnb upstairs. I think that is a smart idea.

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When we walked in, we were greeted right away and show to our spot.  Specials were explained and we were given the menus.

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Obviously, I had a mimosa, not just for breakfast anymore!

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See? Blurry… Sorry about that, but in my defence, it was delicious and I couldn’t wait.

The hubs ordered Lunar Phase on tap. The beer choices were local craft. I love that.

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Our server arrived and I asked if I should have garlic fries or the disco fries. She said Always have disco fries. This is what I know to be true: Every time someone gives a special name to fries, eat those instead of plain. Animal fries at In and Out is where I first learned this rule. Disco fries confirmed it. Chicken gravy (weird choice but DELICIOUS) cheese and garlic fries. Fancy poutine but SO GOOD!

We both had disco fries and I chose Mushroom Swiss and hubs had Bacon Pepper Smash. Our server explained the smash burger, 5 ounces of beef but smashed on the griddle to maximize the caramelization… OMG… yep it worked in making it the best burger.

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This is what it actually looks like Image result for fox burger"

Photo by @exploreEdmonton

I inhaled it clearly because I couldn’t wait to put the camera down. SO BLURRY – what was wrong with me? Right…I was salivating.

After dinner, we shared an apple hand pie with cinnamon ice cream and salted caramel. Warm and light and fab.

I will be back. The problem is Edmonton has all these amazing eateries. I want to get to all of them. It may take me a lifetime. But – I intend on eating everything on the menu so I need to go back a few more times before I branch out to other restaurants. oh…and they serve BRUNCH! I am going on March 11, I can’t wait. foxdirect-Recovered.jpg

Get out and explore people!

Tears

I have been free-forming emotions this week. Processing grief has been a valuble learning exercise for me. I have allowed emotions to come and go as they arise. The interesting thing about all of this is tears. They aren’t always sad. This is the most surprising thing of 2020. I thought I would be sad all the time. Tears are hovering just below the surface and sometimes they leak out because I am sad or angry, but sometimes its because I am happy.

I wouldn’t call myself a cryer. But if I look back to the times in my life where I was the happiest – I was definitely a cryer. The last five years or so I have stuffed my emotions deep down into the socks I wear. I don’t pay attention to them. I have been missing out on joy and happiness because I have been numbing myself so I don’t feel sad.

THIS IS REVOLUTIONARY.

I am slightly angry at me for wasting so much time trying to get the wrong people to love me. Okay – let’s face it, I am downright pissed I did that. I told my mom I didn’t think I was lovable for a really long time and I think that broke her heart a little bit. We determined I was loveable, I was just asking the wrong people to love me. I went for a Reiki session and have done all kinds of inner-child work (whoa…that was painful). Then, finally, I am nurturing myself with a dose of allowing. News Flash, you don’t have to ask people to love you. The right ones just do.

I allow feelings to flow. It happens at weird times and places. Like work…ug… that is the worst but the reactions at work have been surprisingly caring. I didn’t expect that. I am not sure why, I work in a culture that is very caring, perhaps the most caring place of my entire career. The place that you would think was supposed to be the most nurturing was the most harmful to me. I also find that interesting – and I resent that because I thought there was something wrong with me – nope it was them.

The other day I was scrolling through Instagram and saw this:

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I loved this post by @haleydrewthis  because LOOK AT ALL THE HAPPY MOMENTS! This inspired me to write my own list. I think it is important for me to recognize the happy and sad moments and allow those tears to flow. crying feels great when it is over. I am here for it.

  1. Standing over my baby’s crib listening to tiny baby snores.
  2. Laying down with my pal Cap on the stairs and feeling his heartbeat.
  3. Standing on the balcony in Irving and looking at the pool before I leave knowing this is it.
  4. Sitting on a rock in Big Sur and watching whales swim by.
  5. Holding my friend’s hand when her mom died.
  6. Sitting in meditation asking for help to move forward.
  7. On the floor of my classroom hearing the words “your grandpa is in the hospital and it doesn’t look good”
  8. Sitting and my desk when my mom said, Gram died through the night.
  9. The Good Place series finale when everyone walks through the door.
  10. My very first half marathon having my kids walk with me across the finish line.
  11. Standing in the ocean at Tofino with the hubs waiting for me onshore.
  12. Every time my kids sit with me and we laugh.

Good, bad and ugly – life is awesome.

Edmonton Tourist: Café Linnea

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Do you see that empty chair? That was where my brunch companion was supposed to sit. She arrived eventually but this happened during the -40C cold snap. (The cold snap that lasted 10 days.) The world was moving slow. I even arrived later than I wanted to because Café Linnea is usually packed with Edmontonians wanting to eat the delicious food they serve. This is what it looked like 9:00 a.m. Me and that couple in the corner. My server brought endless coffee and I sat with my book and just enjoyed the peace until Rena arrived. I had been here before and wrote about it here. Being my second visit, I was hoping the food was as amazing as it was last time – in case you are curious, the answer is “you betcha!”

 

 

We spent two hours catching up and devouring the food. I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when I saw the special, schnitzel and spaetzle. Um, yes, please!

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The last time I had really good schnitzel I was in Freudenstadt, Germany 

Just looking at this photo makes me want to have it for dinner. This was as good as I remember it should taste. I wish it was a regular menu item because I would be back tonight. Except the celery salad. (?!?!!?) I’d be okay if I never ate that again. I’d rather just munch on celery sticks thanks.

My brunch companion had the Farmer’s Breakfast.

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Look at those beautiful eggs! We both had the juice of the day, grapefruit and something with something else. Freshly squeezed juice is always delicious so I didn’t pay attention. Their coffee was good and hot and always filled in my cup. I usually have the latte but decided on the old school cuppa so I could have lots. I love holding the hot cup in my hands on such a cold day.

As the morning progressed, the placed filled to capacity. We continued to chat and were never rushed so we ordered dessert.

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I was still feeling the Euro vibe, so I had a lemon crepe. It was light and perfect. My partner ate the chocolate rosemary ganache and loved it except she could tell there was rosemary which was the reason she ordered it. I don’t have a photo because we were hyper-focused on eating. Don’t judge, just wait until you go there, you will understand.

By the end of the meal and my 200th cup of coffee, I decided I needed to bring the famjam home a loaf of their amazing sourdough bread. I chose the darker crust because I like a chewy texture. It did not disappoint.

You can find it in the garment district by Donut Party and the Omnivore. I recommend both those places too! There may be a wait, but it is always worth it.

LOCATION & PARKING

Café Linnea is located in Holland Plaza at 10932 119 Street NW, Edmonton, AB, Canada. There is free parking in the lot directly in front of our restaurant (east-facing), or at the side (north facing), both of which are accessible from 119 Street.

Get out there and explore your city!

Intuition

Painted in Waterlogue
Cap

I just wrote a complete blog post and deleted it. I am caught in that strange place of wanting to write and not wanting to share. I am in that place of solitude where I feel a change coming on.  To help facilitate this I joined a meditation challenge that encourages me to sit in silence twice a day. I am journaling the changes I notice. So far after 3 days (officially) and 5 days, because I stated earlier than the group, I am less inclined to write but I have a strong desire to draw.

As a kid, I would sit at my desk and draw for hours. I am intentionally bringing that practice back and to see what happens. I am looking for something and I think I just need to follow my intuition.

 

Edmonton Tourist: Wm. Hawrelak Park

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I was cleaning up in here and noticed I didn’t even write about Hawrelak Park. It could be because I rarely come here. But that is a lie. I just don’t think of coming here to use this space like a park or a walking place. It may because I was always here and didn’t need to explore it when I did my river valley park series. Whatever the reason for the omission, I am here now.

This place is probably the busiest of all the valley parks. It hosts festivals, races and large enough to always find a picnic spot in the summer. As a kid, we used to picnic here on a Sunday afternoon with every other Edmontontonian. Then we stopped. The World Triathlon Games are held here, I come for the Freewill Shakespear Festival every summer and I walk through this park to get to somewhere else. My health is back on track and I am working towards longer distances again. Not running, but definitely walking longer distances. This place made sense to come to because two loops = 5km. Plus the added benefit of plowed roads. The paths are packed and easily traversed.

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Cap and I parked in the southwest corner of the park and picked up the trail along the river. It was later in the day and the sun was low in the sky. To be fair, this is Edmonton in January, the sun is always low in the sky.

The trail quickly entered the woods.

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We saw lots of cross country skiers and runners along this path, with a few dogs and their humans. This trail leads towards the off-leash that runs along the North Saskatchewan River all the way to Keilor Lookout. We were not going that far.

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When we made it as far as the bridge, we crossed over to check out the views. The bridge was pack with more dogs and their humans coming from the Buena Vista Dog Park over by the Valley Zoo. We didn’t go that far either. Just to the end of the bridge and back.

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After our return trip, we walked towards the park centre. Did you know there is a skating rink on the lawn not just the pond? I had no idea! This is particularly good because the pond was not ready for people yet. Too risky.

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The best rink, in my opinion, is over at Victoria Park, especially at night with the pathways lit up with Dylan Toymakers’ beautiful lanterns. But, this place has ample parking and is lit at night too. Just not with the special lanterns.

We headed towards the north end of the park and past by the playground and many picnic sites that sat empty today. That also surprised me. Lots of people come for a fire and a chance to roast a hot dog or marshmallow. We kept moving forward and walked along the Ice Castle. I went once but don’t feel the need to go again. It is very beautiful at night but this attraction is pricey. Plus I have issues with the amount of water it uses. However, it is pretty.

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WE walked along the north end of the pond where the triathlon athletes enter the water. It looks different without all the geese on the lawn.

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You can see the amphitheatre in the back and to the left. The new Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues is building something back there to commemorate 100 years in Edmonton. Construction had begun.

Cap and I passed some incredibly large trees on our walk. I have looked at these trees for so many years, they always seemed the same, but today, they were huge. I couldn’t put my arms around this guy.

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We jumped back onto the path and passed copious amounts of feeds for both squirrels and birds.

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Soon we were back at my car with the sun lighting up the downtown.

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People don’t think of winter as a time to be active outdoors, but in Edmonton, if you only went out in the spring and summer, have your life is gone in a blink. This park is filled with all-season activities.

Get out and enjoy your city people!

 

Hibernate

It’s that time of year where I find myself hunkering down and taking a step back from my busy life. Partly because December is so hectic with gatherings and special events, it’s nice to sit around and expect very little of yourself. It helps that the weather has been a wee bit on the cool side. -51C windchills anyone? The wind has been a tad brisk. Today is the first day we opened the curtains and let the sun in. Why? Normally we keep them shut as an added insulation barrier to the wind that whips out of the north. It is -17C and quite frankly, it feels like spring.

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The view from my home office. 

I read once that how you react to winter is a metaphor for how you react to life. I take it in stride.

Coping with cold does take more effort and thought. For example, I have to plug my car in. Not because it is electric, but because the block heater warms the oil pan and it makes it easier to start. I plug it in when I get home and I also plug it in at work. It adds an extra five minutes each time. Not a huge deal except I am outside struggling with frozen cords praying the end doesn’t snap off like it has before – that is a major hassle if you have never done electrical work before. Things break easily is this type of cold.

Dressing for cold takes thought. I work in a glass building. Sure there is central heat, but it still feels cool. I have a blanket and pashmina at my desk. I wear wool socks, and usually have a base layer, mid-layer and outer layer. When I only have two layers, the blanket comes out for my lap. As I get tired near 3:00 p.m., I find I get cold. Pot of tea and my pashmina help to perk me up. I always wear a scarf and an extra wool scarf for outside. Winter takes effort.

Eating is also a change to the regular. The last thing I want is a salad. Give me hearty soup and crusty bread. Soup for days is my motto. Bread and baked goods make the house smell delicious, warm and welcoming. It is comforting to eat at home when it is cold.

At home, the curtains are drawn and the fireplace is on. Quilts on chairs and sofas to snuggle with in front of the fire while watching tv or reading. The duvet on the beds and long hot showers are the best part. I don’t like going anywhere so I cancel plans and stay home. We have lived through two weeks of this. Now, as a reward the weather is moving up to single negative numbers it will feel like a treat.

Weather in Canada seems to be a competition. The Prairies are better at it than Vancouver, but Newfoundland is better at it than Alberta. When I lived in Yellowknife, NWT, cold and dark was a way of life. Too cold for your car to start but you went to school or work anyway. If you didn’t, you would never get anything done. Same as Edmonton. I missed work once because of a blizzard in 1988. It rained, covered my car in an inch of ice and then it snowed so much it buried my car. It took most of the day to dig my car out. The roads were closed anyway, so there was no way I was getting out of my town to drive into the city. I was late once because my car didn’t start but a new battery helps that from happening again. So this year, that didn’t happen. As a child, I never missed school because schools never closed. It is what it is. Weather is relative. What is hard for us prairie folk is harder for Lower Mainland folk and the thought of surviving winter on the Rock is unfathomable yet here they are, surviving.

Tofino residents were still surfing this week in spite of the fact they walked through the snow to get to the water. I get that. Winter is a metaphor for how you face life. You either hide and complain, or you get out there and enjoy it.

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www.paullevyphoto.com posted on @pacificsufco 

The sun is on its way back to me. It is setting as I leave work now. This makes it feel like spring is coming. It is rejuvenating to see the sun as I warm up my car and unplug my car. Do I hate winter? No. I love the dense sound when it’s cold. The crunch of the snow and event the frosty feeling in my lungs. It makes me feel alive. Cold snaps help me appreciate spring and summer. I am planning my garden and dreaming of my summer vacation. This year I have decided to not plan around anyone. I am taking the vacation I want without accommodating other people. I am spending my one week at a retreat between the Monashee and Cariboo Mountain Ranges and then one week staycation at home hanging out in my beautiful city.

I can’t imagine living somewhere where the four seasons don’t exist. Winter is the perfect time to hibernate, relax and enjoy the cozy warmth of inside and all the great things about home.