Ahhh summer. I wish it could always be. The warm air, all that time outside in nature, and 17 hours of daylight to play with really fills me with energy.
Canada has beautiful summers and our family loves to take road trips. When traveling we like to have access to a kitchen (the exception is in Thailand where the street food is scrumptious, healthy and aplenty at all times of day/night). Eating in restaurants can be good but three meals a day gets expensive and doesn’t feel that healthy. We prefer to have the option to make our own healthy and flavorful meals in an environment where we can relax.
Each summer we meet-up with friends in some special place. We’ll usually rent a home with a kitchen and take turns at making dinner for the whole crew. There are so many benefits to this including days-off from cooking, getting to taste new foods and learning about the techniques other people use in the kitchen. We were lucky enough to do this twice this year, with a springtime stay in Nelson, BC (Big love to the FitzZalands!) and summertime in the Okanagan (with a big group of our oldest and closest friends).
We booked three cabins at a fishing resort near Lake Country, BC. When it was our turn to make dinner Jack offered to do Thai food, which made all of us very happy. The potential challenge, however, is sourcing some of those fresh and hard-to-find ingredients in the small town nearby. Jack said he would bring his home-made curry paste and some lime leaves from home and he would figure out the rest with whatever we could source locally before heading up the mountain. There is something so satisfying in knowing that you are using in-season, local ingredients. I don’t think there are any in-season local foods during the Calgary winter… pemmican, maybe?
Here is what our menu ended up looking like:
- Vegetarian curry with tofu, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and snap peas
- BBQ Rainbow trout (Chris Sage’s catch of the day!)
- Thai-style tempura chicken strips
- An improvised Thai salad
- Fragrant jasmine rice (never leave home without it!)
When traveling anywhere you have to make do with what is available. In this way, be flexible and resourceful, to make the most of your trip and life in general. It’s incredibly freeing to let go and not get hung up on the little things that might not be quite as you are used to.
Here are the pictorial steps to the improvised salad:
As shown, Jack used Napa cabbage, chopped green onion, grated carrot, matchstick cucumbers (for a video of how he matchsticks check out our Instagram page), tomatoes, cilantro, shallots, cashews, and chilies. The dressing was simply made with chopped chilies, white sugar, lime juice and fish sauce. How lucky am I to be the taster?!
Then the curry…
Jack and I enjoyed our cooking night tremendously, listening to great music while sipping BC wine. In the meantime, the others were fishing, swimming, and paddle-boarding. How truly privileged we are to share such a special place with these closest of friends!
On the other nights we were treated to Rich’s phenomenal Mexican food, Jessica’s bursting-with-flavor Taiwanese BBQ and finally, Ana and Mia (our super kids) made tasty giant BBQ meatballs with mashed potatoes. No paper plates and hot dogs here!
The major highlight of this trip for me was connecting with far-away friends. Jessica Lin, my long-time friend and dance instructor from the days when we both lived in Taiwan. I loved paddling around the perimeter of the entire lake with you! We were gone for hours and everyone thought we were lost!
The other was a surprise visit from our friends Laura Sage, and her kiddo’s Sid and Lila. Laura is an even longer-time friend. We lived together in Vancouver for several years along with her sister Erin. Both are sisters to me! Any chance we get to hang out with you and your lovely families is time well-spent!
It’s a lot of work packing for the cabin and even more so for camping. I’ve created a list which is my go-to for camping. It can seem excessive but if you are driving into your site or cabin, why rough it? We live and eat well on these trips. With a little preparation and organization the time spent on the trip is easier and more fun.
I’ve shared my list with you here, hoping it helps take some of the stress off of packing.
I’d love to hear your tips on how you make your trips fun and easy.