Writing… Damn…. Its Just so Much Fun!

365 days ago the Bain Clan was boarding a plane for a 7 week extended tour of Europe.

Today, while I sit in our Yaletown condo reminiscing about the time we spent away, I can honestly say that I LOVE our life living in Vancouver… 33 floors high in the sky, over looking the North Shore Mountains, English Bay and beyond. WOW! Seriously… what is NOT to LOVE!  But a huge part of me is still in Europe.  The amazing time we spent there as a family last summer is burned into my soul (Ha…. now how is that for dramatic….  I wonder where the Little MIss gets her drama from?!?)  I honestly wish we were heading to the airpot with our bags packed ready for another 7 weeks on the roads of Europe. Guess the planning for Summer 2014 will have to do for now!

I started this blog with the intention of just keeping friends and family up to date on our daily adventures while we were in Europe. Its funny how when you do something for one reason…… it can transform itself into something so much more than you ever thought it would.  Doing this simple little blog for our family and friends has done so much more for me than I ever thought it would.

The name for the blog…..Daily Dose of Europe, came to me during an afternoon run on the Vancouver seawall.  I had been thinking about the trip and all the questions I had been getting from various family members and friends on how they were going to stay in touch with us while we were away. “How will we know where you are?  What you are up to?” “Seven weeks is a long time… can you take pictures and send them to us?” Ect. ect. ect……  I had been thinking about doing a blog for a bit of time.  When the name came to me that day, I literally got home from my run, and, all wet from the rain, and sweaty from my run, I  went on the computer to see if the domain name was available.  I was super thrilled that it was. So FUN!

It was at this point, after I secured the domain that I thought….. “well I guess I had better learn a bit about WordPress BEFORE we go away as they will be no time figuring it out while we are in Europe”.  It was also about at the same time that I had decided to do weekly themed dinners with the family leading up to the trip.  It was perfect. I could learn about WordPress AND have my kids eat new foods! FUN!

After a couple of entries into the whole blogging world, I went for lunch with Ms V.  The blogger behind  www.anythingandnothing.com, and someone I had known since high-school. We went for a quick lunch to catch up on life.  During the conversation the whole blog thing came up and I was talking about how I didn’t really realize how much time it took to blog….. yada, yada, yada, (hey is that even a word?) and that I would probably just end up posting pictures daily from the trip while we were away.  Her response was that since I named the blog “DAILY DOSE” of Europe…. well I had damn well better do a daily post…. Hahahaha ….. I was definitely questioning my domain name choice!  😉

I managed to keep with my goal of cooking weekly themed dinners for the family, and blogging about them so I could learn WordPress.  The one thing I wasn’t really expecting to come out of this whole blogging thing, was that I was actually really enjoying the whole writing process. For some reason this was funny to me.

Now…… I was completely terrified the first time I hit the publish button on the blog.  Seriously…. I think I paced back and forth, all while looking at the computer and that damn publish button…..you have no idea how crazy this was for me! I first thought that I wouldn’t let anyone that  I knew, know that I was writing the blog.  I quickly realized how silly that was.  If you are writing a blog the WHOLE point is to have people (as many as possible) read your BLOG (share with your friends people!)  😉  As terrified as I was to have people who actually knew me, read my thoughts on random things….. I connected the publish button in WordPress to my Facebook and Twitter accounts and hit PUBLISH!  The first time I hit that button I secretly cringed, and broke out in a sweat…. I am happy to say that, that crazy feeling has long subsided.

An awesome feature about WordPress is that they track the stats of your blog. It was something I wasn’t really that interested in until I saw that people were actually reading MY LITTLE BLOG!  I love that I can see in what countries people have looked at my blog. I can also see what Google search terms have brought people to my blog.  Let me tell you some of the search terms are so funny!  I LOVE it… and makes me smile.

Since I started my blog on Feb 25, 2012 its been so great to see the site stats. Now….. I know that in the world of Blogging my stats don’t compare, but since I wasn’t really expecting that many… seeing it was pretty cool! I have had 2,629 views all time.  50 comments, and views from people all over this small world.  I had 1744 views in Canada, and 233 views in USA. France had 72 views, and Spain had 42 views. The list is long on countries, but so cool that people in Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Israel, Peru, Iceland, and United Arab Emirates have some how found their way to my little blog.

The search engine terms that directed people to my blog also make me smile. Sometimes it seems so random! Here are a few, with the number of times it was searched. Ha… yes Chef Fabrice Rossman, you were googled 3 times and it brought “who ever it was” to my blog. Anyway the google stats make me smile.

luz-saint-sauveur france in winter 5
dailydoseofeurope 5
barcelona gelato shop 4
mountain towns in france 4
carcassonne real chocolate 4
barcelona frank gehry 4
daily dose of europe 4
disneyland paris lollipop 4
schnitzel 3
carcassonne. 80’s love songs 3
hotel montmorency 3
fabrice rossman 3
barcelona building eyes 3
the little red tin 3
barcelona fish gehry 3
pierre hermes arc de triump 2
real chocolate carcassonne 2
paris metro+m1 2
chocolate olives carcassonne 2
tourmalet safety driving 2
mountain towns in europe 2
windsor meats 2
animated rainstorm 2
euro disney rides 2
kiddie tram 2
cafe mickey disneyland paris 2
lourdes pyrenees mountains 2
is it safe to drive to lourdes from barcelona through the mountains 2
awesome red doors 2
rue poncelet market 2
indoor dolphin show 2
top mountain town vehicles 2
funiculaire regulations of fencing 2
intent tomtom 2
chocolat veal carcassonne 2
we have been waiting for you the whole afternoon 2
tourmalet cheese 2
mickey mouse in europe 2
toll roads heading south in france
german football fan 1
disney store charles de gaulle 1
barcelona dolphin show 1
daily doise iod for children 1
daily dose of europe bain 1
my family travel blog 1
barcelona zoo luggage 1
pictures of kale chips 1
dailydoseofeurope.com 1
disneyland paris lineups 1
disney tickle 1
disney popcorn dumbo 1
sagrada familia 1
noodle panda paris 1
le tour de laundry 1
frank gehry daily life 1
we are the children – euro music from the 80’s 1
a daily dose of europe 1
who said i have been waiting for this my whole life 1
cave street carnival midi 1

So I didn’t make it do doing a “Daily Dose of Europe”…. *sigh*.  During our trip there were a lot of factors that contributed to this. One was that the days were busy and the nights we not what i imagined them to be.  There just wasn’t a ton of time from when the kiddies were asleep to when they would be waking up.  The internet was also not what I was accustomed to.  It was AMAZING when we had our apartment in Paris and had unlimited WiFi for all our devices all the time, but once we left there… well it was just ALOT harder to connect!

It was however, important to me to “finish” this blog.  I really wanted the kids to one day read back on all the fun and craziness that we had.

When we returned to Canada in August 2012, I did a post about “Le Tour de France (a month or so after it was over) and my good friend asked me when I would “FINISH” the blog.  My response was “before the kiddies start school in September”.  When he asked again in November I said it would be “before the end of the year (2012)”.  He quit asking…. however I could hear the question over and over again every time I did an update.  For me it is fitting that my last blog entry here is on the day we started our adventure, 365 days ago.  YES… I ended up half planning this, but only because it was a fitting end!

With the Bain Clan heading back to Europe in Summer 2014, there will be random postings here but probably not many till some time in 2014 as we build up to another grande adventure.

I have decided that I really like this whole writing process and plan to continue it on my newest blog Life and Laundry. I’m not 100% sure where that blog will go but you can bet it will focusing on my awesome family, Vancouver, and all the “daily” craziness we encounter!

http://www.lifeandlaundry.com

I hope to get that site up and running in the next couple of days…..  Check for me there

Writing… damn…. it’s just so much fun!

Enjoy your (not so) Daily Dose

Xox

B.

PS Hope to see you all in the stats on the new blog!  🙂

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It’s Small World…. Love it!

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Stats…. So fun!

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This happens ALOT from our window on the 33rd floor…. *SIGH*

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Hello Vancouver….. Seawall around Stanley = AWESOME!

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View…… 33rd floor!

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3rd beach picnic…  *LOVE*

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Yes… even this is AWESOME 33 floors up. Gotta love Vancouver and the rain! *LOVE*

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So…… I can’t sleep!

OK…. so I can’t sleep!

So upto now I have been pretty methodical in my approach to getting ready for our trip.  You know……getting things in order, not really thinking too much about the days or number of hours till we leave, and how long we will be gone for (…..yikes 50 days) ect, ect, ect. I was doing pretty well until tonight.  Tonight that is, until while getting ready for bed, and brushing our teeth, Mike turns to me and says with a great big grin “38 hours…. no…. it’s less than 32 hours till we leave!”  “Make sure you get some good sleep…. its gonna be a crazy long day with the kids….. 5 hours to Montreal.  3 hour layover. 5 hours to Paris. 5 hour drive to Heidelberg”.

Ok I knew all of this but…….

Wait …. WHAT…. OMG…. REALLY!

Yes its gonna be one crazy travel day for the Bain family!

With that said, I think I was doing pretty well, since I had today planned for my packing day for Brodie and I.  The suitcases were brought out of storage almost a week ago, and they were ready to be filled.

I placed all that I thought Brodie would need for about a weeks worth of clothing (all types of weather conditions were thought of) on his bed, and did the exact same thing for my clothing.  Now on a friends advice, I left it there so I could come back to and see if it could be pared down…… Hahahaha …. not a chance could it be pared down (but thanks for the advice Ray)!  I actually added things! Uuuuggghhhh!

As of tonight, I would say that Brodie and I are at about 90% packed and ready to go.  Mike says not to worry…. and that “this is the most prepared we have EVER been for a trip!”.  So that brings me to not being able to sleep…. my mind is racing on things I may be forgetting, and things I wanted to get done before we left and now have a slim (now read NO) chance of getting done!

I’m not sure how, this trip, that we have been talking seriously about since September, is now less that 32 hours away!  I actually wish we were already on the plane because I then could stop thinking about everything I “need” for this trip!

Come on Friday 9:00am……. I just need to get on that plane….. If not just so I can finally relax, sleep, and forget about everything I “need” for this trip!

Enjoy your Daily Dose

Xox

B.

Ha…. not all this is coming with us… we just needed options!

All set and ready to go… on this end anyway!

A Big Ol’ Bowl of Magic and a Half Marathon

This past week saw the kiddies get hit hard by a virus. To say it has not been the best week in our house would be an understatement, but I think we have made our way through the worst of it….. well for the kiddies anyway!

I was unsure what to cook for our travels this week.  With everyone either sick or on the verge of being sick, cooking a themed dinner was not high on my list of priorities. It never seems to fail that when you are really looking forward to (not to mention training really hard for) something, a virus or illness always seems to creep into the picture!  It happened to Mike earlier this year when he was to run the “First-Half” Half Marathon, but became so ill he was unable to move.  I don’t think he got out of bed for 3 days!!  So this was my weekend, and it was an important one.  I was to be running in one of my favourite races, the Vancouver Half Marathon……. I was not about to get sick!

As I was going through The Food of Spain cookbook, my initial thought was that a soup would be nice.  Something warm, super easy, yummy. Everyone would feel better!  There were a few different recipes for soup in the book, but the one I kept coming back to was Gazpacho.  It’s not a warm soup, but a cold soup, and its best served really, REALLY, COLD!  The thought of all the raw yummy veggies packed full of vitamins was enough to convince me that this is EXACTLY what our family needed!  I wanted to keep with the Tapas style menu and decided to also make Tortilla….. aka Potato Omelette.

Now I have a Gazpacho recipe that I love.  I have no idea where I got it from……  all I know is its on my computer, in my documents folder, and I LOVE it.  With that said, I am trying to stay pretty authentic in my dinners, so I decided to use a recipe in my cookbook.  The  recipe in the book definitely has fewer vegetables than my recipe, (maybe my recipe is the V-8 version), but the one in the book also has the addition of soaked and puree’d bread.  I was totally intrigued by this, and have since found that I REALLY like this little addition.  The bread gives the soup a real nice texture and richness.  The soup was a pretty delicious, but both the kiddies were uninterested (I think due to them both being sick).  Brodie, managed a few big spoonfuls, while little Syd could only bring herself to try just one bite.  I personally, had a second helping of the soup, and then managed to eat all the leftovers on Saturday.

Now…… I wish I could say yummy and good things about the Tortilla that I made.  The recipe even states “such a simple dish, so difficult to perfect…… The Tortilla is the dish by which to judge a tapas bar.”  Uuummmm ….. OK……so I LIKE things to be PERFECT! I really should have read that and decided to try a different recipe…. that was the red flag waving high in the air for all to see! Did I listen…. no… of course not!

Having made this dish, I honestly can’t wait to try this in an authentic Spanish Tapas Bar.   It is the one dish I thought was sooooooo BORING!  I didn’t like how it looked, and I didn’t like how it tasted. Maybe I didn’t add enough salt, maybe the potatoes were cut to thick…. maybe I just didn’t have a clue what I was doing….. I’m still at a bit of a loss on this one, but in no hurry to make it again! Mike however, seemed to REALLY enjoy it, (eating 2 whole pieces).  Brodie had a few bites….. and little Syd, well she had none!  You can bet that this topic it will pop up again on the blog during our travels through Spain!

I am happy to report that both the kiddies and Mike are on the road to recovery.  It is always tough when the kiddies are sick.  Very often, you wish it was you, and that they didn’t have to go through it…… however…… that was not my thought until Sunday at 10:30am. Race weekend was pretty important and I managed to stay healthy enough to have a pretty decent half marathon finishing in 2:14:54.  It was a beautiful new course, in one FABULOUS city! You really should do it if you haven’t… an amazing run…..you won’t be disappointed!

I have no doubt that my determination in not getting sick played a big part in keeping the virus at bay till after race day, however I also think the Gazpacho played an even bigger part with all the freshly pureed vitamins and minerals!  Well it looks like I now need to make another big batch of Gazpacho….. I am getting pretty hard hit with the same thing the kiddies and Mike had…. time for that big ol’ bowl to work her magic!

Enjoy your Daily Dose.

Xox

B.

Fresh Roma Tomatoes blanched and ready to be peeled.

Soup Garnish

A touch of EVOO and a little S&P to mix it all together

Hello Big Ol’ Bowl of Magic

Not my favourite dish…..

For me…. So yummy!

For MIke…..

One of the worlds most beautiful half marathon courses…. on your “bucket list” it should be!

2:14:54  So FUN!

The Little Red Tin of Awesomeness

Well here she is folks:  The Little Red Tin of Awesomeness!

(and I will come back to her importance in a bit!)

This past week, we started our culinary journey just over the border from France and into Spain. Since I  thoughoghly and 100% enjoyed cooking from The Food of France cookbook, I decided to pick up The Food of Spain cookbook.  If you are looking for an uncomplicated, tasty, and authentic meals, these are definitely the books you should check out….. they are pretty great!

When we travel to Spain in July 2012, we will be hitting both the west coast (staying in San Sebastian) as well as the east coast (staying in Barcelona) of Spain. This past week, for our dining adventure, I decided we would be having a couple of different “tapas” (small Spanish savoury dishes), a chicken dish, as well as a seafood dish.

The nights menu consisted of :

Tortillitas de Gambas con Salsa Romesco

Pollo en salsa de Ajo

aka:

Prawn Fritters with Romesco Sauce

Chicken in Garlic Sauce

Sooooooo……. the kids have NOT been exposed a lot of seafood in their short little lives (I know…..weird…..we live on the west coast of Canada).  So with this thought in mind, I thought it was best to “disguise” the shrimp (now this might be a bit of a “no-no” in the book I’m reading – French Kids Eat Everything {and Yours Can Too}), but I haven’t gotten that far in the book, so…….. I made “Tortillias De Gambas”.  I chopped up the shrimp and make a “prawn pancake”, (yes I even called it a “pancake” for Brodie sake) served with a romesco sauce for dipping.

Now cooking these dinners has been a bit of a challenge for me.  The “Chef” in me has really been holding back on my natural impulses for changing recipes.  It has all been for the sake of creating “authentic” national dishes that I have not acted on these impulses.  With that said, and the recipes I chose this past weekend, I really thought that the Prawn Fritters was the one dish, that, so far, could have used a bit of livening up (a hit of lemon zest, some cilantro….. ).  It totally would have brought the dish to life…… but then, maybe not so “Spanish”?!? RIGHT?!?)).

The Romesco sauce was nothing short of AMAZING! My first I thought was that I had made way too much sauce, but it turns out, it was just the right amount since we couldn’t get enough of the stuff, and ate it like it was going out of style!

The Chicken in  Garlic Sauce was  as close to “unbelievable” as you can imagine.  WOW, it was soooooo good!  My total favourite of the night,and maybe even since I stared writing this whole blog thingy.  The caption for the recipe even states…..

“……in a way that is so impressive the dish will soon enter your repertoire of everyday meals”.

To say I was a bit sceptical as I was preparing the dish was a bit of an understatement, but this dish took me by total surprise….  happily, 150% by surprise!  It was so AMAZING…. it really was not something I was expecting from reading the recipe when deciding to put it on our evening menu.  Really, the only reason I picked it, was because it was chicken, and the kids like chicken!

I am happy to say that Brodie LOVED it …. although at one point he stated “my lips are burning a bit”…… yes little man…… it will take some time to get used to the Smoked Sweet Paprika (aka the Little Red Tin of Awesomeness)!  Little Syd (being the tough nut she is…) was not such a fan. I think she is gonna be a hard one to convert (too all types of food) no matter what. Unless of course we are going to Japan…. then I know that girl would EAT!  But since we are not……..

Well that brings me back to “The Little Red Tin of Awesomeness”,

aka… Sweet Smoked Paprika!

I have used this little gem in my Turkey Chilli for a number of years (though, not much else aside from this), and it is the one addition that everyone asks about when they inquire about my chilli.

Now there are a couple of things I learned about whlle making this dinner

1. Sweet Smoked Paprika is in 2 of 3 recipes, so I need to have it on hand.

2. I now need to go and replenish my supply of Sweet Smoked Paprika before Friday and our next “inspired” meal, since it was all used up this past weekend, and you can almost bet its gonna be in at least one of the dishes I decide to make this coming weekend!

If you don’t already have this “Little Red Tin of Awesomeness”  in your pantry….. make your way to the grocery store to get some …… she is a delight to have in your cupboard. You will be happy to have it on hand and to add to just about any of your recipes, especially if you ever intend on cooking traditional Spanish meals!

Enjoy your Daily Dose.

Xox

B.

Hello Romesco….

Mmmmmm…  yummy goodness!

Fritters…. aka “Pancakes”!

Chop chop chop

I see you little red tin of awesomeness!

Tasty… but needs a bit of an “tweak” for my taste

This was beyond AMAZING!

Mmmmmmmm……. the finished product.

$10.00 red and it was so de-lish….

Mikes beer, crafted especially for food pairing… although he didn’t drink it from a champagne glass like directed! Oh Mike!

Looks like the little man is as excited as I am to get to Europe!  I LOVE the Eiffel Tower “space ship”!