Banff Recovery: Hike Read Pastry Repeat

Sounds ideal, no? Spending time outside, reading, and playing in the kitchen. Too bad I had to fall off a mountain, and undergo back and neck surgery, to let myself indulge so.

Though I’m not one to wallow in self-pity (unlike Bert who’s been crying about a blister for the last 4 days), I had been feeling low and maybe drinking too much. This week though, I got the okay to start physio! The Drs said my muscles are shrunken so core strength should help with the lingering back pain from the surgery. I’m not supposed to do anything high-impact for about a year. 7 months to go.

The surgeon okayed running, though it’s not the ideal choice of activity, and she noted,

I wouldn’t, you know, do anything long distance like sign up for a marathon or anything like that.

Whoops. Bert and I did 43k around Glenmore last Friday; it took me 5 and a half hours. My back and neck were alright afterward; it’s flat. It’s more downhills that hurt.

It hasn’t been all that bad though (it could always be worse). It’s not such a hardship to have permission to mellow out a bit. Here are my picks of those things I enjoy best! Hiking, reading, and pastry.

Lazy Winter Half day’ers in Banff:

  • Vermilion Lakes
    • Distance: 5k round trip from Banff townsite
    • Terrain: depends on the time of year. Marsh, ice, trail, paved; your choice.
    • Notes: You can drive right to the parking lot, but where’s the fun in that. A very popular place to people-watch, especially the sunset and astral photographers
  • Sulphur Mountain
    • Distance: 5.5k one way up, approx 2 hrs
    • Terrain: If someone who’s recovering from surgery can do it, you can too. A wide packed path with the pending reward of sweeping view of Banff townsite.
    • Notes: Fun, free gondola ride down (the ride up costs $50). My boss and I hiked this after work one day. He noted that by hiking up it was like we were paying ourselves $25 per hour
  • Lake Minnewanka
    • Distance: Stuart Canyon is 1.8km into the trail, or continue all the way to Devil’s Gap 30km away
    • Terrain: Singletrack, usually dry earlier in the season than many other trails.
    • Notes: April is sheep birthing season! The babies are all over the road sipping ice melt, and they are seriously cute.
  • Also check out Tunnel Mountain (4k return) and Stoney Squaw (5k loop)
  • Other recovery hikes: Wasootch Kananaskis (10k return), Barrier Lookout Kananaskis (10k+ return), Moose Mountain Bragg Creek (14k+ return)
Snowy path up to Barrier Lookout.
Vermilion Lakes at sunset. Others had the same idea to go for a walk this evening.
Sulphur Mountain
Sulphur Mountain trail passes under the gondola. Wave hello!
April ice on the Lake Minnewanka trail. It started to snow…

The books I read recently have nothing to do with the mountains. But here are the ones I most enjoyed, in the spirit of over-sharing brought on by my elevated spring mood.

Good (somewhat girly) Reads for Curling up with in Bed!

  • 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, Mona Awad. This book was on Calgary Public Library’s book list. I really liked it. It seems many people don’t identify with self-hate at any weight.
  • Orange is the New Black, Piper Kerman. You know your boyfriend lives under a rock when he’s like, what’s Orange is the New Black?
  • Purity, Jonathan Franzen. This guy is maybe pompous but always a good read.
  • Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed. From the author of Wild. She makes me cry. You know your boyfriend lives under a rock when he’s like, what’s Wild?
  • Why Not Me? Mindy Kaling. Do you sense a self-help theme here? I didn’t even bother asking the boyfriend whether he knows who Mindy Kaling is.

I ran into Ewan McGregor while trying on sunglasses at Used Vintage on 17th Ave in Calgary, and Mr-Lives-Under-A-Rock was like, who’s Ewan McGregor.

Just starting on Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, founder of Nike. The rest of the Hunger Games trilogy has also been waiting patiently on the Kobo as has Hillbilly Eulogy. I will refrain from listing the regulatory reports and work-related documents I also read recently.

Delightful Pastry for Flaky Fanatics

Just discovered Wild Flour Bakery in Banff. They supply the Juniper Lodge with dessert, notably a GF choco tart that impressed even my usually critical foodie friend. I say critical, meaning he feels no obligation to assure a chef that it’s “Delightful!” just to be polite, like I do sometimes. So, Wild Flour. Over the next few days I proceed to consume their plain, choco, and almond croissants and a brownie. In the interest of sampling a full repertoire, of course… Then I felt compelled to bake some of my own brownies for D’s birthday and my own eating pleasure. I’m a Martha Stewart loyalist.

Some Bachelors have this “thing” where at any potluck they’ve got their set dish they’re comfortable bringing and everyone knows that that’s their “thing” and that’s what they’ll be bringing. For Bert it’s Caesar salad. And since it was Easter I thought it a shame to do bottled dressing so we made our own and garnished it with toasted cubes of leftover home-made herbed focaccia because it’s even more of a shame to spend good money on oil-and-salt-soaked stale bread, so-called croutons.

Another birthday means more cake! It’s difficult to improve on Nutella but Nigella Lawson shows us how (spoiler alert: do you really want to know what’s in this cake?? Butter. Chocolate. Nutella.). Phew, at least there’s no added sugar. Which can only mean it’s ‘nutritious’. How to be a domestic goddess? Make one’s entire house smell like Nutella.  In appreciation of butter-and-chocolate improved Nutella, Bert kidnapped my cookbook and surreptitiously covered over the I and G in”Nigella” with a U and T.  How To Be A Domestic Goddess, by Nutella Lawson.

And… A different offering for the fruit fanboys and girls. The original Linzer Torte recipe (obtained courtesy of Jennifer Chmelniki circa 2009, formerly of Brava Bistro) calls for whipped cream and mascarpone but for Easter dinner with family I wanted something more home-style, faster to make, and more ‘nutritious’. Here’s my version. If you make a lot of this sort of thing you’ll see the crust is quite versatile for any custard-y or fruit topping. This is just what I happened to have on hand. I used the extra egg whites in chocolate meringue.

  • Sort-of Linzer Torte Recipe
    • Crust: 1C flour, 1C brown sugar, 1C ground almonds, 1tsp cinnamon. Cut in 1C cubed cold butter. Add 1 egg + 3 yolks and crumble together in hands. Press into buttered lined flan pan and blind bake 375F for 20 min. Cool.
    • Topping: Spread raspberry puree and top with canned peaches. Bake another 20 min at 375F.


Do we get to eat this yet?

Until next time, I hope you are all enjoying time outside, time for yourself, and all the deliciousness life has to offer!


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