Thursday, June 14, 2012


There's a lot of pine-beetle damage and strategic burning. Tragic for the trees, but happy for the morels and herbs that spring up in these burnt-out places.

Miwa with her eagle-eye finding morel mushrooms for supper

As I sort through all the precious memories and pictures from our trip, I keep going back to Valemount B.C. where we stayed for five days with friends Catherine and Seiji.

For me, it was stepping back into my childhood, a time of wonder. When I was a kid we'd visit Valemount a couple times a year. This was where my mother found her Faith, learned to make bread and soap, spin and knit, climb mountains...and where she met my dad! To her, and then my brothers and sisters, and now my children, Valemount is a kind of second home.

three generations of friendship

But this is the cool thing. Back in the 40's and 50's, before there was television or even a highway into the town, my grand-parents lived in nearby tiny McBride. During that time, they became friends with the McKirdy family, the original settlers on McKirdy mountain, and that was the beginning of a four-generation friendship.

Four generations of friendship
Will and I stayed for five days with friends Catherine and Seiji, who have carved out a little farm on the inhospitable mountainside and built a beautiful timber-frame home. Someday I'll have to devote an entire blog to Seiji's philosophies and projects—everything from Shiatsu to illustrating children's books. He had us in stitches, and questioning the meaning of life, the whole time. 
Sadly, Catherine was out of the country, but their daughter Miwa was home with her little girl, and together they showered us with friendship, hospitality, and awesome vegan cooking. Oh my! Delicious. Miwa opened my eyes to the creativity of cooking with raw foods. 

the lovely Miwa at work

Cooking with Miwa is like being in a studio with an artist. They can't explain what they do. It's not an exact science. It just sort of flows out, from some intuitive part of their brain, and it's perfect.

homemade crackers, avocado spread, and ginger-peanut sauce

There is obviously some kind of cooking muse hovering over Miwa (she also climbs mountains, plants gardens, writes poetry, and raises her daughter Isis...)

Here is a recipe from Miwa, a little souvenir from Valemount for you!

Black Bean Brownies—edited!

1 can black beans
2 generous handfuls of cooking dates, in water to cover and soaked overnight, or to soften
3 eggs
3/4 cup oil
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
splash of vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

blend all ingredients, including the water from the cooking dates, pour into a 9-inch cake pan, bake at 350 degrees, approximately 40 minutes. 

Cool and chill before cutting. It will become more firm as it cool, but this is a soft, almost mousse-like brownie cake. 

While it is chilling, melt 

1 bar of camino organic dark chocolate (or something approximate....) 
1 can of coconut milk

in a double boiler, whisking. 

Remove from heat and pour over brownies. 

Chill. Garnish with berries.

No dairy! No wheat! Freak-friendly! It is just sweet enough, plenty of chocolate, and the beans inside, well, nobody's the wiser. The berries really make it, though. Don't forget the berries.

Thank you to all our Valemount friends for such a wonderful time.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Touristy Bits

I will try—I really will—not to be too touristy, but don't you want to know about sage brush? 

I'd never seen it before, but there it is, growing all over the badlands of Alberta and the dry, arid hills of the Okanagan. It is silver and fragrant.... smells like heat and rosemary and sage and wood.

And in Drumheller (where we didn't end up discovering dinosaur bones....though not for lack of trying....)

...we found cactus! In Canada! Who knew?

Tasted alright.

But our favourite place was the giant cedars in the Eastern Rockies near Revelstoke, B.C.

The smell was like nothing else this side of heaven. When we stopped for one of our little hikes, the wind coming off the mountainside was so beautiful, so rainy, so renewing, so growing! Like the secret source that renews the whole world.


Stopping for some mandatory nature journaling...

 Aren't they tree-mendous?