to be honest, i had no clue where penang was. (fyi - it's in malaysia) we were doing a side trip from hong kong with our family and my aunt suggested we all go to penang. is it hot? does it have a pool? does it have good food. yep yep yep. ok. we are in. lets go!
before we left we watched the anthony bourdain show on penang. we knew we weren't going to get to have a trip like his with the boys along but if the food we were going to have was anything remotely close to what he had then we would be pretty happy.
oh yep the food, it was awesome. our meal of choice was always found at a hawker food court.
sure a little AC would have helped in the sweltering heat but not at the expense of good food. there were 10(!) of us on our family trip, and we all liked to eat, except for atlas, my picky eating skinny mini boy, he hates food, of any kind, on any continent.
oh wait, he did have fruit juice at the tropical fruit garden.
it was so so so hot, and he was so so so sweaty.
 a few more from the tropical fruit garden.

 pineapples above, dragon fruit plant below.
 and i still have no idea what this thing is...

 at the end of the tour of the garden we got to sample everything. so. so. great.

 the main staircase and the tiles were my favourite.
then there was more touring around georgetown, plus a whole lot swimming in the pool, playing on the beach, and more eating.
all in all it was a pretty good side trip with kiddies in tow.

the colours in-between pink and blue

from our apartment balcony

it's more interesting with clouds.
for the past week we've been going out every night to enjoy the warm weather and sunshine. although i would prefer to watch the sunset on the beach with sand between my toes, we make it home just as it happens so the kiddies can go to bed. the view from our balcony is not bad either.

whistler tag along

we rejoice when daddy needs to go to whistler for work, because we get to tag along. the drive up to whistler is one the the best. you will find this sea to sky highway on lotto 649 ads. when you win the lottery, you get to be all carefree and giddy with glee while driving on this beautiful road, with ocean on one side and mountains on the other, at sunset, on a clear day.

on this particular day it was scorching hot. the boys really needed a splash pad. we played in the park for a little but it was too hot. after a while of running around, atlas didn't want to touch anything because all the metal playground things were burning his hands.

 we found a shady spot to watch the mountain bikes come down.

 and we sat at a shady patio to have lunch while watching the brazil - germany world cup football match. well we all know how that went down. my heart ached for brazil. it would have been stupendous to win the whole thing on home turf.
 a little slide down the mountain before heading home. castle was just big enough to try it out. he was unsure, as you can tell on his face.
driving home, a view of first peak on the chief. people hike up that thing, here's what it looks like from the top. should go do that again soon. happy days.

painting lesson learned

while castle was painting today, he got a little carried away. he was breaking all of the painting rules and making a giant mess. the painting rules, of course, are set by me, in my own head, and he doesn't know what they are. i was about to stop him but instead i took out the camera and started snapping photos of it. i have learned to let go of the little things. this was a little thing, i was doing just fine until he started to rip the paint out of the tray and breaking it into pieces. i told him to stop. for some reason it was ok for him to do one thing but not the other? the whole situation quickly spun out of control and before i knew it we had a full on tantrum on our hands. in hindsight we could have avoided it all. you always know what do do in hindsight, right?!

if he hadn't broken the "rules", he wouldn't have made my favourite painting of the day, and it wasn't even done on paper. those blobs of colour, right below.
my favourite by far. love those colours together, and love the gradient, and the shape of the blobs.

fuel in my tank

this is what fuels me.
we spent the morning exploring whytecliff park in west vancouver.
despite the threat of rain and grey skies, we went ahead anyway. knowing the limitations of our little ones, we chose a hike just for them.
 and we had no idea we would be joined by scuba divers, so early in the morning.
if you live in vancouver, the world is your gigantic succulent oyster. scuba diving, you can do that too.
it drizzled on and off, but we didn't complain. it was very refreshing to be surrounded by all that ocean and mountain.
there were wild blueberries all over. we met a man out berry picking. he had purple fingers and a whole big bag full of them.
we climbed up the island at the end. this was the first time castle has done anything of this nature. he is usually quite timid, but he did great! and the rocks were wet and slippery. gonna work him up to climbing kilimanjaro! :P that mountain will fuel my tank for a few years, i think.
 atlas held on to his sticks while on daddy's back the whole time.
we watched the scuba divers and the long distance ocean swimmers. we studied their gear and their thick wet suits. that water looked cold!
the rain started to really come down as we were leaving. perfect timing!
even on a cloudy rainy day, it was beautiful.

recreating pretty decent carnitas

this was one of those things that, after our first bite, andrew says, oh great, you've gone and ruined it again. as in, we now can't order this out anymore, because it tastes so good at home. i have been making carnitas from a recipe off of cooks illustrated for years. their method is braising in liquid. but after a few tries i found the meat coming out dry. so off i went in search of a better home method.
what i dug up, from serious eats, was an explanation of why liquid braising would produce a dryer meat. helpful, but their recipe was not. i really liked the flavours of the cooks illustrated version, and how they got crisp at the end. the serious eats version, although more tender, did not produce the same flavour. so! i have combined the two! and here is the recipe, for pretty much out of this world as best as you can get it home made carnitas, without a deep fryer or a giant pot of lard. beware it takes time and effort. but both will be rewarded.

makes enough for 6 to 8.

3 lbs boneless pork shoulder/butt (look for one with good layers of fat through out), any big fatty parts on the outside trimmed back to 1/4 inch, and the whole thing cut into 2 inch large chunks
1 orange
6 cloves of garlic
1 onion, quartered
2 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbs salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil

To eat with:
corn tortillas, warmed
lime wedges
chopped white onions with cilantro (traditional), or we like pico de gallo, guacamole, salsa verde…

preheat oven to 275 degrees.

mix pork with cumin, dried oregano, salt and ground pepper until all coated. put it in a 9X13 baking dish.

cut the oranges into 8 pieces and squeeze the juice over the pork. tuck the orange peel pieces, garlic, bay leaves, and onion quarters into the meat. it should be all snug as a bug in that pan in an even layer.

pour vegetable oil all over the top.

cover tightly with tin foil.

cook in the oven on the middle rack for 3 1/2 hours! low and slow.

remove bay leaves, orange peel, onions from the pan.

strain out the pan juices into a large saucepan.

reduce the pan juices in the sauce pan until it's thick. this may take 10 minutes, depending on how much liquid you have.

in the mean time, break the pork chunks into half.

heat the broiler on high.

put the pork chunks into the reduced sauce, and gently toss to coat. (if you want to cook ahead this is where you want to stop, and stash it in the fridge. do the next steps right before serving.)

spread pork in an even layer on a wire rack set inside a baking sheet.

broil on middle rack until crispy, about 5 minutes. flip the meat and broil for 5 minutes longer.

the weekend that never ends

a wee bit of a photo bomb to recap our weekend. with canada day on a tuesday, plus grandma grandpa auntie visiting, it was the weekend of all weekends. first there was daddy's birthday, and grandpa's birthday. they have the same birthday!
impromptu beach dinners at our favourite beach are one of our favourite summer activities.
castle had his final preschool performance, everyone came to see it. but he was so overwhelmed by all that was going on he just cried, really loud, on stage, right up at the front, the. entire. time. it was amusing and disheartening at the same time. oh my sensitive boy. after a while it didn't look like he was going to calm down so daddy plucked him off the stage.
the weather was unstable so we went bowling. it was fun watching castle's ball go ever so slowly down the lane, it didn't look like it was going to have much impact but he knocks quite a few pins down every time. the things we learn from our children, that day it was: you don't need to bowl that hard. let the ball do the work.
 then there was castle's birthday! thanks to a really cool playmobil birthday present, castle now has first hand knowledge on photovoltaics and how they work. because this toy comes with one. we were most impressed!
on canada day, this glorious city decided to show off. hot and sunny and we loved it.
 we went to check out the festivities, but the crowds and the heat got the better of us.

 we had planned to watch the parade but decided to leave all the craziness behind and had dinner with friends on the other side of town. plans tend to change a lot when there are little kids involved. they were so tired, we were so tired. it was a good tired.
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