Sunday, October 28, 2012

Enchanted forest or haunted forest?

We're on a forest hike in Mont Tremblant National Park, the second largest national park in Quebec, Canada and Halloween is coming up.

Help me find that one scary tree.

It should be easy. Every forest trail has at least one beast. A big, old tree that storms, insects, and woodpeckers have carved into something that doesn't need any help from Hollywood makeup artists to look like a monster.

But wait. In the Mont Tremblant National Park forest trails I keep finding enchanted forest

My favourite. A brontosaurus sitting on a big rock nibbling on tree branches.
La Corniche trail, Mont Tremblant National Park, Quebec Canada
Waterfalls.
La Roche trail, Mont Tremblant National Park, Quebec, Canada
Look outs.
La Roche trail lookout, Lac Monroe, Mont Tremblant National Park, Quebec, Canada

Where's the scary stuff?

On the haunted forest trail 15, Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada. 

If you're hiking these trails, enjoy!
Mont Tremblant National Park map of La Roche and La Corniche Trails, Lac Monroe
Happy enchanted or haunted forest walks!

I think I prefer enchanted. Soon, it will all be covered in snow.

The BaffinPaddler

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

This is so redundant! The reds and yellows of Canada's fall

This is so redundant. But each year, it's necessary to pay tribute to the reds and yellows of fall.
They go so well together.

What?

More of the same?
Finally a bridge.
A cement and steel ice breaker. The Madawaska's current will push you into them if you drift too close with your hands off the paddle.
This is so redundant - more red and yellow.
Burnstown Beach
It's everywhere.

Red and yellow.
 Enjoy the reds and yellows of Canada's awesome fall.
But watch out for the rocks, current, and dam at Calabogie to avoid the reds to you don't want to see.
  Images, paddle location, and trip details:
  • Madawaska River, Ontario, Canada
  • Burnstown Beach to Calabogie
  • 12.5 km paddle each way
  • Current flows from Calabogie towards Burnstown
  • If you launch from the Burnstown beach boat launch (very kayak friendly, lots of parking, and a small fee to pay), you are paddling against the current. 
  • Current strength varies depending on time of year and the upstream dam at Calabogie. 
  • From Burnstown - West-southwest heading out. From Calabogie - East-northeast heading back to Burnstown. Not complicated to navigate.
  • Wind direction tends to change every 15 minutes on windy days in each direction - you'll have a headwind, crosswind, and tailwind both ways - ENJOY!
See last year's tribute to fall in Gatineau Park

Fall peaks in Gatineau Park, Quebec. Colours and cold water! 

Happy trails!
The BaffinPaddler

Sunday, October 14, 2012

BaffinPaddler favourite Hot and Sour Soup Recipe - Vegetarian

“Can I have your recipe for Hot and Sour Soup?”

Yes! Here it is.

This is my favourite Hot and Sour Soup recipe for its exciting, exotic taste and variety of textures. It seems to work magic for scaring away colds and making you feel all warm and happy inside. A big bowl of this spicy, steaming soup is a meal. It's soothing comfort food with a kick that people love all the more on rainy days, or during those long, cold winter months.

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients
  • 1 cake silken or soft plain Tofu (300g). Cut into bite-size cubes. Don’t use the hard flakey Tofu. It’s just awful. You want a tofu that will melt in your mouth. It’s wonderful!
  • 1 small can bamboo shoots (drain off liquid, cut into ¼ inch strips)
  • 1 small can water chestnuts (drain off liquid, slice into strips or cubes)
  • 1 carrot (Julienned) See Tips below for how to Julienne a carrot
  • 2 large eggs (beaten in a bowl)
  • Mushrooms (I use dried, chopped, Shitake mushrooms - 1 packet of 20g), or 1 cup fresh mushrooms of your choice – sliced and sautéed until browned in a little olive oil or canola oil.)
  • 2 tbsp (tablespoons) cornstarch
  • 6 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (start with 1 tablespoon, you can always add more later)
  • 2 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Sesame oil
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (2 cartons – 900ml each)
Optional Ingredients
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh chopped ginger root (peel off brown outer skin first and discard) Add to the stock. If you don’t like ginger, omit. The soup will still taste great.
  • Fresh green onions, chopped (to sprinkle on to the soup just before serving)
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped (to sprinkle on the soup just before serving)
Preparation 

Very Important! Assemble and prepare all the ingredients first. You'll need them ready to go before you start cooking. You may want to enlist the help of a good Sous Chef to help you prep. It's a fun soup to make together.
  1. Put cornstarch in a cup, add soy sauce, hot chili sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar, and mix well until perfectly smooth. NO LUMPS! Set aside. We'll use this magic mixture to thicken, flavour, and glaze the soup just before serving.
  2. In large heavy soup pot, add the 8 cups of stock and fresh ginger.
  3. Bring stock to gentle boil.
  4. Add dried mushrooms, reduce heat to simmer and cover for 10 minutes. 
  5. Add carrots, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts.
  6. Stir, cover and simmer 5 minutes.
  7. Add tofu, stir gently.
  8. Increase heat to medium. 
  9. Gradually add cornstarch mixture to the broth. Stirring gently, until the broth thickens and gets glossy. It's beautiful!
  10. Lower heat to simmer. Don’t cover pot.
  11. Add beaten eggs gradually, stirring gently to keep eggs from forming large chunks.
  12. It’s time to serve the soup!
  13. Sprinkle with fresh chopped green onions or fresh chopped cilantro (or both!). 
Enjoy! It's awesome!

Tips

How to Julienne carrots: Cut ends off carrot and peel. Cut carrot into 1 inch sections and slice lengthwise into thin strips. Great for stir fries and soups.

For Non-vegetarians

Some people like to add cooked boneless pork tenderloin strips, sliced thin, into hot and sour soup recipes. You can also add cooked chicken strips, sliced thin.

Serving Suggestions
  • Put Soy Sauce, Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce and Hoisin Sauce on the table so people can add more flavours to the soup if they wish.
  • Serve with a side dish of your favourite oriental dumplings, fried rice, or egg rolls and dipping sauce for a really hearty meal.
Have Thermos - Will Travel

You'll need a wide-mouth Thermos to transport this deliciously spicy, hearty soup with you on those cold weather paddles and hikes.
Happy trails!
The BaffinPaddler

More Favourite BaffinPaddler Recipes

You love to eat - right? You're the engine for your boat. Cooking is fun sometimes . . . when you're not paddling, hiking, cycling, skiing, doing yoga, lifting weights, curling, and more. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Go Somewhere - Mont Tremblant - Booyah!

This is what you get when you hike up a mountain in the rain to see the fall colours and a 40+km/h wind greets you!

Enjoy!

Or pick a calm, sunny day!

The fall colours are awesome this year. Go somewhere to see them.

The trees are screaming, "Booyah!"

Happy fall hikes.
The BaffinPaddler

Image location: La Roche trail lookout, Lac Monroe, Mont Tremblant National Park, Quebec, Canada

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

BaffinPaddler favourite butternut squash soup recipe with curry and coconut milk

Fall is the beginning of soup season. It's when we celebrate a good harvest and lament the beginning of cold and flu season. Here's one of my favourite soup recipes for its exciting great taste, filling a hungry belly, and promoting good health.

The texture of this blended soup is not too thick or thin, making it fantastic to drink out of a mug or eat from a bowl with a spoon. It's just right either way! Everyone loves the beautiful velvety golden colour. It pours easily into a Thermos for a great lunch to take along on those awesome fall paddles and hikes.

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk Recipe

1 large butternut squash, peeled (remove outer skin) and chopped (scoop out and discard seeds)
3 carrots peeled and chopped
2 medium size potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 tbsp Indian curry paste (Add 1 tbsp, then taste to make sure you don't make it too spicy, or serve on the side and let people add their own to the soup.)
1 carton or can of chicken or vegetable stock (900 ml)
1 400 ml can coconut milk
The juice from one fresh lime
A pinch of nutmeg
Tarragon (fresh chopped, or dry)
Salt and pepper
  • In a large soup pot, heat the oil. 
  • Add the chopped squash, onions, garlic, potatoes, and carrots and saute on medium heat until they soften a bit - about 5-10 minutes - don't brown.
  • Salt and pepper lightly (people can add more to suit their taste when served)  
  • Add the curry paste and mix well.  
  • Add the stock and lower heat, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  • Remove pot from heat and let cool a bit so you don't risk burning yourself when you blend and puree the soup.
  • Ladle soup into the blender little-by- little (only fill 1/2 to 3/4 full when blending to avoid spills and always hold down blender lid with a dish towel to prevent it from splashing out or burning you.).
  • Puree soup until smooth.  
  • Put soup back on the stove on medium heat.
  • Gently stir in coconut milk. 
  • Add lime juice.  
  • Add a pinch of nutmeg and stir.
  • Heat the soup to a temperature you like (don't boil) and serve.
Serving Suggestions

When serving, sprinkle fresh chopped or dried tarragon into each bowl for colour and taste, or serve on the side so people can add their own.

Serve with fresh, warm rolls or with homemade croutons or soup crackers.
Tips

The skin on uncooked butternut squash is hard to peel. You can also pre-bake the squash by cutting it lengthwise, scooping out the seeds and baking it in the oven on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes at 350 degrees to soften the squash and scoop it out of the skin and add to the soup mixture before blending.

If you're making this Butternut Squash Soup for Thanksgiving Dinner, and serving mashed potatoes and gravy, you can omit the potatoes from this soup recipe. No sense in overdoing it with potatoes.  The soup is still great without potatoes.

You've got your favourite Soup Corner at home, right?   But . . . 
 Have Thermos - Will Travel
 Aren't you tired of trail mix!? Take this soup on the road!

If you're looking for a hearty stew recipe see:
BaffinPaddler Easy Make Pork Tenderloin Stew

or try another one of my favourite soup recipes,

BaffinPaddler Hot and Sour Soup - vegetarian

Happy fall paddles and hikes!
The BaffinPaddler

Monday, October 1, 2012

Find your beach in the 1000 Islands

Doesn't this make you want to get out and paddle?

Linger?

Forget about work?

Dream?

Play?

And more?

Me too!

I love the way this image makes me feel about paddling, my kayak, the environment, and the people we paddle with, so I submitted it to a photo contest.

Do I have a chance?

It's the desktop image on my computer so I can get lost in it for a good long while. Especially on rainy days. I hope you enjoy it too.

Fall is a great time to get out and find your dream shot.

A kayak can take you there!

Happy fall paddles!
The BaffinPaddler

Image location: 1000 Islands, St. Lawrence River, Grass Creek Park beach, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Sea Kayak: 17' long, yellow Boreal Baffin
Red cedar Greenland paddle
Launch site: Public boat launch, Grass Creek Park marsh, Kingston, Ontario, Canada