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travel: whistler

last weekend we celebrated my husband’s birthday up in whistler.
i absolutely adore whistler… and he has been dying to ski, so it was a perfect fit.

the two of us, my brother and my husband’s best friend packed up and spent 2 nights in a winter wonderland.

we stayed at the delta whistler village suites this time… for no other reason than they gave us a 2 bedroom unit for a very reasonable price considering it was peak season.
the last time we were in whistler, we were at the pan pacific whistler village, which i absolutely loved.  the location and the rooms were just a bit better than the delta, but i would definitely still stay at the delta again.
usually though, the bulk of my whistler stays are done at the club intrawest in the upper village, which i also like.
of course, being in the village proper is the best scenario, but i really do love the intrawest property.  particularly the hot tubs and pool area.

anyways.  unfortunately for us, my husband was just getting over a wicked cold and i was just getting it.  so the party factor was a lot smaller than we thought it would be.  so what was projected to be a wild weekend, turned out to be pretty tame, but still super enjoyable.

we went out the friday night, to 21 steps attic for dinner and drinks.  the food was excellent and the drinks mixed masterfully.  we were all about the manhattans and old fashioneds.  (there’s been a lot of mad men in my house lately)
i had an appetizer of fried goat cheese with rosemary honey that nearly brought me to my knees.  spectacular.
the service was a little spotty… really great until this massive group of people showed up and didn’t have seats, so they were literally hanging over us on all sides while we were eating our meal.  they totally obscured us from the waitress, so it took over 30 minutes to get our drinks refilled and it just made us feel like we wanted to get out of there as soon as we could.  it was a shame because up until then, we were having a really lovely time… i have no idea what the hostess was doing or why you would bring that many people upstairs with nowhere to seat them.

saturday morning, we were up early and i made the boys breakfast before they hit the slopes.  i love having a kitchen in a hotel room.  it really makes your stay so much cheaper the have snacks and light meals on deck.
then they were off as soon as the mountain opened.

i decided to hit the gym to try to sweat out my sickness and then i relaxed in the pool and hot tub.  i love how whistler pools are like bathtub temperature… and then got ready for some village exploring.
my original plan was to hit the trails like i normally do in whistler… but then i realized that i’m normally not there during ski season and most of my regular trails are closed for cross country skiing.  so i gave up on trying to navigate the map and just explored the village.

the weather was stunning.  absolutely picture perfect whistler weather.  not a cloud in the sky and warm sunshine… no wind at all.  lovely.  my first stop was david’s tea, where i had the most excellent cup of cold 911 tea to help ease my sickness.  it worked like a charm… while i was drinking it.  but then it snuck back up on me.  by noon i was ready for a bowl of soup.

i read the menus at a few places and eventually decided on the little eatery, as they had a selection of 6 different soups.  i ordered a bowl of the thai chicken, which was spicy and exactly what i needed.  very yummy.  unfortunately, i found the service to be a little lacking.  i was left at the entry way for a while and ignored and was just about to leave when finally someone talked to me and seated me.  then my order was taken, dropped off and later my bill brought.  i definitely felt a little neglected by the “bare minimum” service i received.  while it technically wasn’t “bad” service, it just didn’t make me feel like they cared at all about my business or experience.  but i’m sensitive to that sort of thing.

after my soup i had to retreat back to the hotel… the sickness was creeping up on me and despite the phenomenal weather, i just couldn’t hold it together anymore.
around 4pm the boys came back and we hung out in the room all night… watched 2 hockey games, drank some drinks… i made chicken wings and lasagna (thanks costco) and we just talked and laughed and had a great time.

the next morning we hit up the dub linh gate pub for breakfast.  i had a gift certificate for $50, so it seemed like a good time to use it.  the breakfast was super average.  my husband’s smoked salmon benny was good, but my omelet was pretty much inedible with leathery eggs out of the carton.  they also served the breakfast french fry.  which i’m not really a fan of.  if you call it a hashbrown on the menu, it should be hashbrowns, not cubed french fries.  but the service was really good and the irish coffee very irish, so i give it an overall “okay” stamp.  probably a better place for lunch/dinner or just drinks.

so that, my friend, was my whistler adventure.
and now, i leave you with the greatest picture anyone in my family has ever taken.
my brother on top of the mountain, tebow-ing.

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food: meyer lemon curd

so here’s the thing… while I love chocolate, I’m so not that chocolate girl.
if you give me a dessert selection, and something lemon is an option, that’s where I’m going.

I’m an all ’round citrus lover… but there’s a special place in my heart for the lemon. and recently, the meyer lemon.
it’s basically a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange, which makes for a sweeter lemon but doesnt skimp on the pucker factor.

one of my favourite lemon delivery devices is the curd. I adore a good lemon tart where the curd is in a shortbread crust… but shortbread ain’t paleo, so it’s just the filling for me.

I’ve never actually made lemon curd before. it falls under the same rules as baking. it’s finicky, involves reading & following instructions and just generally seems like a lot of work.
but the payoff is so good… and I have so many meyer lemons. so I embarked.

meyer lemon curd
– 1/2 cup meyer lemon juice
– 2 tsp zest
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 2 eggs
– 1 stick butter

whisk all ingredients together over a double boiler and cook until thick. whisking constantly.
strain if desired (I like the zest, do I don’t)
chill and cover with wax paper to avoid the top from setting.

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food: lamb shank

yesterday i had a lamb craving.
it’s been a while since i’ve had lamb and i was due.  in specific i wanted lamb shanks.  because it’s cheap and delicious.

so, off to thrifty’s to collect 2 shanks for the low low price of $13.50 and considering that feeds two people, i feel pretty good about that price.  sure there’s cheaper meats to eat… but as far as lamb goes, shanks are the best way to stretch your dollar.

i made a paste in the mortal & pestle with garlic cloves, fresh rosemary, salt & pepper, a little olive oil and dijon mustard.  and rubbed that into the shanks and let it sit while i chopped everything else.
then i seared off the shanks  until brown, removed from the pan and sauteed 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped carrots and a couple whole garlic cloves.  when the veggies were soft, i hit it with some red wine and beef stock.  also added a few sticks of fresh rosemary & thyme.
the shanks went back in and it simmered with the lid on for 2 hours.

after about 2 hours, i took the shanks out and set them on a plate to rest (and tented with foil) and pulled out the sticks from the herbs and whizzed the remains with the immersion blender to make a thick sauce of deliciousness.

i served it with mashed new potatoes for the husband and nappa cabbage in apple cider vinegar as a side dish.
yes, lamb, potatoes and cabbage.  it seems so irish, lol.

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we ended up with some of the sauce left over and it was just too delicious to throw down the drain, so this morning when i put some short ribs in the slow cooker, i added the leftover sauce to the mix to make the flavour richer.  i felt pretty smart with that one.  yey for recycling!

food: sweet potato tuna melt

a couple months ago my best friend mentioned to me that she’d seen a recipe for a tuna melt made in a sweet potato jacket and she mentally filed it away because she thought i’d like it.
i, in turn, mentally filed it away with the intent to one day try it as a lite lunch or snack because as soon as she described it to me, it sounded pretty yummy in my head.

but truth be told, i’ve never been a huge canned tuna eater.  i have environmentalist guilt about the whole dolphin thing… and well, it was just never something we ate as kids, so as an adult it’s not something i ever think of to eat.

then, a few weeks ago, i was shopping at whole foods and came across this tuna from raincoast trading.
yes it was $7 for a can of tuna… but it seemed very environmentally responsible so my guilty conscience paid up.
(how does whole foods always do that to me?)

so, i mixed it up with a little mayo and some chopped pepperoncini peppers, gave it a dash of salt & pepper and loaded it into a cooked sweet potato (5 minutes in the microwave).
i added some fresh mozzarella on top and broiled it in the toaster oven for a few minutes and voila, a delicious and healthy lunch that pretty paleo… except that pesky cheese.  but i’m doing my best here.

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travel: italian adventure

well, it is with GREAT excitement that i can say that my italy trip is officially booked and confirmed and paid up in full.

so what does this mean?
well for one, we’re now BROKE, lol. but it’s all good… so worth it.
but most importantly as of september 26th, we are off for almost 3 weeks to explore italy.

our tour is called “the best of italy & sicily” and it starts and finishes in rome… and goes a little something like this:

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we arrive into rome 2 days before it starts and depart when it ends… i am ridiculously pumped about this.
this will trump hawaii as my longest trip ever – and also will be the furthest away from home that i’ve ever traveled.
and while i’m on it… it’ll also be the most expensive trip i’ve ever taken.

we really debated between the itinerary above that includes sicily and one that includes more of the north.
but my assistant manager has traveled extensively in italy and said this one would be better because if we return to this area of the world, we’ll probably do france, germany, switzerland ect and its easy to dip down into the north of italy when you’re in the neighbourhood so to speak.
in any event, we agreed.
and we were both pretty keen on the idea of including sicily on this trip.

i also absolutely love the idea of taking the “overnight cruise”.  it includes dinner and should be pretty beautiful… i love being on the water.  i hope the weather is good.

we’re going to eat and wine our faces off… i’m especially excited about this in particular: Dinner with wine at a Sicilian agriturismo winery.
ummm… okay!

the one thing thats really blowing my mind is the absolute value of this tour.
yes, its a lot of money upfront, but now we’re done.  every breakfast and 4 dinners with wine are included.  so we have to budget for lunch & a dozen dinners.
but our accommodations, transportation, sightseeing and everything else is done and dusted.
we’ll have this trip paid off before we depart on it.  and thats exciting. especially for my husband, who is much more of a money watcher than me.

also, having someone else take care of our luggage and checkins to hotels ect is really going to free up our days to SEE more.  we won’t be mucking around dragging bags to and fro train stations.  and that was important to me.  while this is a longer trip for us, it’s not a “long trip” to europe by any means.  so we have to maximize our time on the ground.

i bought this book at costco to help:

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it’s really interesting and they break down a lot of cities with “if you only have one day – do this” kind of mentality and include walking maps.
which is perfect, because in most cities, our coach will arrive, they do a spin around the city to orient you and then you do one major sight or activity and then you’re free for the afternoons.

i also like that we get a local guide in Rome, Florence, Assisi, Pompeii, Palermo and Agrigento.
very cool to be shown a city by a local… and i’m looking forward to seeing what they call their “hidden treasures” which is something unique to each guide that they show you that you won’t find in the lonely planet book.

anyways.  clearly i am very excited.
i’m currently making my “to do still” list which includes: getting transfers to/from the airport in rome, booking our 2 nights hotel for before the tour starts, extending our insurance coverage to cover the length and cost of our trip and getting a book on learning italian.  yey!

188 days seems a lifetime away…

food: roast chicken with meyer lemons

the best part of roasting a chicken is how it always looks super impressive, even though it’s like the easiest thing ever to make.
i’m not joking.  you literally give it a little rub down with oil/butter/whatever and salt & pepper it… pop it in the oven, forget about it and when the timer goes; perfection comes out.

just to shake things up a little… and because i have a bazillion meyer lemons, i decided to roast some lemons in with the chicken and potatoes.
it worked magically.

i greased up the chicken, salt & peppered it and stuffed it with a lemon cut in half with the juice squeezed into the cavity.
then i popped it in the oven at 450 for 20 minutes to crisp the outside instantly.

i took it out, turned down the heat to 350 and added the veggies to the pan.  this time it was just potatoes, onions and 2 meyer lemons cut in half.
back into the oven to roast for another hour.  (it was a big chicken)

after the temperature told me it was done (love that meat thermometer) we let it rest.

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here’s a quick shot of the finished product…
don’t worry, something green did make it onto the plate.  we had kale chips as a side dish.
the lemons were really tasty and we squeezed them over the meat as an almost-sauce.  yum yum.

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food: fajita salad

friends, this is a no-brainer blog post.
this is what happens when a girl that is notoriously addicted to fajitas has to stop eating them because the tortillas are on the no list.
she finds a way to eat them anyways.

from my vast 7 weeks of paleo knowledge, the easiest way to turn a non paleo dish into a paleo dish is to make it into a salad.
so behold; fajita salad.

we started with steaks.  good steaks.  we went with strip loin.
then it got a healthy dose of fajita seasoning.  mine comes from only one place and nothing else is an adequate substitute for my tastebuds.
i buy paul prudhomme’s fajita magic online.
my mom has been using this stuff since i was a kid and we mail ordered it.
this is seriously the best stuff ever.  i am so loyal to it and i use it often.
i can’t do it justice on the internet, but if i’ve ever made you fajitas in my house and you’ve said “damn, those are the best fajitas ever”, this is my secret not so secret ingredient.
fajita magic

anyways.  everything tastes awesome with fajita magic on it, but we had a ton of fresh cilantro so we used some of that too.

then i pan seared the steaks.
because it is way too cold for me to bbq.
and i actually enjoy a pan seared steak when cooked properly.

i let the steaks rest and went about assembling the rest…
i sauteed some bell peppers and onions in fajita magic too…
and i built the salad with mixed greens (aka – the lettuce in my fridge at the time) some grated pepper jack & cheddar cheese (oops, not so paleo) and some homemade pico de gallo.
continued the load up with the peppers & onions, sliced steaks and topped it off with a whack of homemade guacamole.

this one is my husband’s… he likes lots of corn chips and pico de gallo and everything in one big pile.

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this one is mine…

i like everything separate so i can build my salad mouthful by mouthful.
i also don’t like onions, so the pico de gallo was a pass for me.
and i totally cheated on paleo with a sprinkle of cheese and a couple corn chips.

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