Spring-Time in Vancouver

I love Vancouver in the Spring.

The sun warms up and the cherry blossoms come out. Running becomes more enjoyable.
Cherry Blossoms Sunny Stanley Park Seawall

But you still have snow in the mountains if you want to go play.
On Dog Mountain Emily and the Snowman

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Oh She Glows Cookbook

Oh She Glows Cookbook
Honestly, we didn’t need another vegetarian cookbook. Emily and I already have 14 cookbooks that rarely get used. When we need a recipe, we have one go-to source and it’s not Google or any cookbook. The best place to find good vegan recipes is the oh she glows website. Run by one woman in Ontario, Angela Liddon, it’s quickly become the most popular vegan website on the internet. And for good reasons. She makes the most creative, best tasting vegan meals anywhere. I’ve cooked close to a hundred meals from recipes on her site, and I’ve yet to find a dud.

After 5 years of blogging, she finally published a cookbook. We ordered it without reading a single review. We knew it would be amazing. We also owed her. Most of the best food we’ve cooked and eaten in the past few years has come from recipes on her website. It’s tough to repay that.

So far we’ve only made a handful of recipes from the cookbook, but they’ve been excellent. I made the Marinated Italian Mushrooms last week and Emily combined the Life-Affirming Warm Nacho Dip with the Taco Fiesta Potato Crisps to create an scrumptious casserole. Of the 100+ recipes in the book, 75 are exclusive to the cookbook and the rest are improved favourites from her blog. There’s a lot to like about Angela’s cooking. It’s all vegan; she uses hardly any soy or processed ingredients; and the recipes are complex without being complicated.

I’m happy to see that her cookbook has been successful. Right now, on both Amazon and Chapters-Indigo, not only is it the best selling cookbook, it is the bestselling book. Yes, book. A vegan cookbook is outselling Nora Roberts, Chris Hadfield, and the Game of Thrones! It’s a well-deserved honour for Angela.

Here’s a sampling of recipes that we’ve made recently from oh she glows:

Raw Chocolate Almond Breakfast Parfait Vegan Thai Mexican Casserole and Salad Brownie Cake

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Dark Table Restaurant Review

DarkTable
Eating at Dark Table was probably the most unique dining experience I’ve ever had. The food was really good but it was the setting that made dinner special – complete darkness. It’s amazing how lack of sight changes how you experience food. My sense of taste wasn’t super-enhanced, but it made exploring what was on my plate more of an adventure.

Our server, Albert, was awesome – ensuring we had everything and talking us through the meal. He’s blind, as are most of the wait staff. The Dark Table menu doesn’t specifically mention it, but you can order a vegan or vegetarian surprise. If you order a drink, I recommend something in a bottom-heavy glass. I knocked my glass of wine over midway through the meal – and I have no idea what kind of mess it created.

I highly recommended Dark Table. I don’t want to spoil the experience with too many details. Go check it out for yourself.
Dark Table on Urbanspoon

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Modo 8k – Beautiful Day for a Run

Modo8k
I ran my first race of the year this morning. The Modo Spring Run-Off 8k, a beautiful loop around Stanley Park. It was a perfect day for running. A little brisk, but the sun was glorious.

I’m really happy with my time. My goal was to finish under 32 minutes but I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I finished in 31:12, good enough for 7th in my age category and 53rd overall. Much faster than the only other 8 KM race I’ve done, the inaugural Spring Run-Off in 2007. That year it took me 33:48 to run 8 km (2.5 minutes slower), but somehow I finished 2nd in my age category (oh to be under 25 again) and got a free pair of shoes. No prizes this time, just the satisfaction of running a PB.

Most of the race felt really good. I was relaxed, I had an amazing view from the seawall, and my legs felt good. But the last kilometre almost killed me. It was uphill, I had a cramp, my running form collapsed, and my energy levels were failing. It was the only part of the race where people passed me. It’s a good reminder that I need to do more hill training. I’d like to have that finish back, but I still held on to cross the line ahead of young phenom who was on my tail. It’s a small moral victory that I’m faster than a 14 year old girl, but I’ll take it. I puked at the finish line, but that’s pretty much standard procedure for me when I race hard.

Next up, the BMO Half Marathon on May 4th. I need to put in some more distance and work on my speed before then, but otherwise I think I’m on track.

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Greater Vancouver Snowshoe – Return to Black Mountain

No View
It’s March already and this is the first snowshoeing trip we’ve done in Vancouver this season. The weather is partly to blame. We were looking to do more snowshoeing around Christmas but the mountains were nearly bare.

Trail Descent SplitAfter a few recent dumps, the local mountains are ready for snowy fun. Emily and I snowshoed, while Dan and Steve put skins on their skis. It was a lot like our previous trip up to Black Mountain – the snow was falling heavily, the views from the peak were nonexistent, and the trail was gloriously uncrowded so we could crazy carpet down. The only difference snowshoeing with skiiers is they’re faster on the flat and downhill sections. On the way down, the skiers use the Cypress Mountain ski runs, while the snowshoers use the trail.

Backcountry PassesCypress Mountain has changed where you pick up the free backcountry passes needed to use trails. Instead of picking them up from staff at the main chalet, they are available from a self-serve station in a room in the old chalet (a few hundred meters away). It’s a bit confusing but it is well signed.

I tracked our trip with GPS on Strava. The map shows how the trail parallels the ski runs and then circles the plateau before descending.
Black Mountain Plateau Trail Map

Cypress Backcountry Black Mountain Plateau Trail Emily on Black Mountain Backcountry Skiing on Black Mountain Skiing and Snowshoeing Backcountry Balancing Act Crazy Carpet In a Tree Well

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Vegan Chimichangas for Dinner

Vegan Chimichangas
Made some yummy chimichangas using a recipe from eat, drink & be vegan, a cookbook by Dreena Burton. Added a cilantro salad, baked squash, guacamole, and a slice of lime. Mmmmm, yum.

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Data Nerd: Transportation Expenses Updated

My 2012 post analyzing my transportation expenses is making the rounds on twitter again, so I thought I’d update the charts.
Transportation Expenses by Year Chart

Although the cost of driving in Canada has steadily risen, my transportation costs are flat. I spend $1200 a year split between car rentals, car sharing, cycling, and public transit.
Transportation Expenses by Year Pie

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