Homemade dumplings are one of the best things around. Before my parents moved to Calgary, we visited them a few times a year. Each of those times, my mom and I would dedicate at least half a day to making her famous Korean dumpling, “mandu” (만두), filled with beef, tofu, chives, garlic, and ginger. I got pretty good at crimping them really nicely, but you could always tell which ones were my mom’s (the best looking). They were best eaten straight out of the steamer, dipped in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, and Korean chili flakes. My mom would freeze a few large Ziploc bags full of them and I’d cart them back home to tide me over until my next visit.
These days, I have easier and closer access to my mom’s 만두, but eating a majority gluten-free diet prevents me from enjoying them as often as I used to. A few months ago, I went searching for a recipe for gluten-free dumpling wrappers. I found one and made dumplings successfully a few times with it, but I found that the dumpling wrapper was much thicker and not as light as its regular, gluten-filled counterpart. Of course, I didn’t expect that gluten-free wrappers would be anything close to the gluten kind, but I was still optimistic. The other thing to consider about gluten-free dumpling wrappers is that they require a bit more time and care to get right. They tend to tear easily and need to be handled delicately. I found myself spending at least a couple of hours in the kitchen making a batch of dumplings. While delicious, it often left me thinking, “why do I keep going to all these efforts for these dumplings?!”
My ice cream maker has been busy the last few weeks. It’s been too much fun trying out new flavours and being able to have homemade ice cream on hand to scoop up and enjoy, although my expanding waistline is starting to become a bit troubling (oops). Apparently I haven’t been doing a good enough job of burning off the ice cream calories.
By far the most gut-busting flavour I’ve made is Peanut Butter Ice Cream. To begin with, peanut butter is chock full of calories. Its calorie-density makes me cry, because I love peanut butter so much. I’m not ashamed to admit that I eat spoonfuls of peanut butter at a time. Combine this with the fat-laden heavy cream and the sugar that goes into making ice cream, you better believe it’s not friendly to anyone on a diet. Oh, but it’s so creamy, peanut-buttery, and tasty all around that I throw all caution out the window.
I have a rolling mental list of restaurants to try, some of them established and well-known, and some that are new and still waiting to be discovered. One thing I’m always on the lookout for is a good shawarma place that we can add onto our Repertoire of Regular Rotation (see what I did there?) – the places that we’ll go back to over and over again, that have the specific dishes or cuisine to satisfy whatever cravings we might have on a particular day.
I admit I didn’t grow up with shawarma in Small Town Alberta. The first time I tried it was well into my 20′s, but I can’t remember the exact location (it might’ve been in Sydney, Australia of all places). Mark, on the other hand, is a shawarma lover through and through. Growing up in Ottawa, which I’ve heard some claim as the shawarma capital of Canada, he’s had his healthy share of the good stuff, being introduced to it by his many Lebanese friends. His perennial favourite is Shawarma Palace, and I can attest to its deliciousness. I was fortunate enough to try a chicken shawarma wrap when we visited Ottawa a few years ago and I can see why Mark loves it so much. We often joke about flying to Ottawa just to have Shawarma Palace. It’s just that good.
This past Friday, I donated some lovingly baked Three-Nut Fingers for the Calgary Food Blogger Bake Sale that took place at the Calgary Farmers’ Market’s Sundown Chowdown.
It was pretty awesome to be involved in the event, not just to participate as a local food blogger (can I say that now? That I’m a food blogger? Eep), but to support a great cause in the Calgary Foundation’s Flood Rebuilding Fund. I got to meet some fellow food bloggers and have first crack at the goodies that were all enticing me to take them home. I resisted all temptation, since we (me and hubby) are in the final weeks before our epic honeymoon to South Korea, which basically means getting in shape as much as possible so that we can indulge to our hearts content on the Motherland food that we both so desperately crave. And I had a 5k road race to run the next morning so I had to keep my stomach contents clean for that.
This past Labour Day long weekend was spent with The Cheung Crew (as I affectionately refer to my in-law family) in Banff and area. We shared a spacious cabin at beautiful Castle Mountain and took in a ton of nature and general away-from-cityness for 3 1/2 days. Over the course of those days, we chased a starlit sky, a sunrise in temperatures that felt like we were right in the middle of winter, and a sunset that would’ve been better to watch at the aforementioned sunrise location. We also grilled a ton of meat, ate way too much food, and didn’t get nearly enough sleep to function at optimum levels. So, all in all, an excellent family getaway.
On our way back to Calgary, we stopped in Banff to pass some time and grab some grub. First, we ended up at the Banff Springs Hotel (we were originally aiming for The Rimrock, but somehow got lost), where we enjoyed some drinks on their terrace, and then headed back into the Banff town site, where ended up at The Eddie Burger + Bar.