5 Dads Go Wild; the Food We Ate

Disclosure – this blog post is about the 5DadsGoWild camping trip to Manning Park that I took with four other dad bloggers. Our trip was supported with products from a group of brands including House of Knives and Casus Grills Canada. As always, editorial control of everything I share on my blog remains with me – all opinions expressed here are my own.

In my most recent blog post about the #5DadsGoWild camping trip to Manning Park I mentioned the discussions and rich conversations that we were taking part in. Well, just like being fashionably dressed, we also had to be well fed and well “coffeed” in order to fully participate in those discussions and conversations.

#5DadsGoWild

Of course Stephen Fung likes to get fancy with his French Press and Chemex style coffee making but I need a cup of quality coffee as soon as I get rolling. So I quickly use my old fashioned cone system to make myself, Michael, and Stephen a cup of Ethical Bean coffee provided by Wes and the team at the Blue Moose Coffee Shop in Hope BC. Simple and ready quickly.

#5DadsGoWild

My responsibility for keeping the group fed was to make biscuits. And seeing as I did not have an actual stove, never-mind an oven, I was pretty worried about how the biscuits would turn out.

#5DadsGoWild

As it turned out, my biscuits were pretty darn good! I prepped them ahead of time (at home) by mixing the dry ingredients in a Ziploc bag (including a 1/2 cup of powdered milk to replace the actual milk). The dry ingredients are simple:

  • 4 cups of flour
  • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of powdered milk

Just before cooking the biscuits I added and mixed in about 9 tablespoons of butter and about a cup and half of water. Once the dough was mixed and sticking to itself I formed them into little circles (about 2 dozen biscuits) and cooked them in my cast iron frying pan on the camp grill.

Although the first couple burned on the bottom (too high of heat – I turned the camp stove burner way down for the second batch), I was able to salvage them by using the new House of Knives Fusion Classic 8″ Chef’s knife to slice off the thinnest layer from the bottom of the burned biscuit.

After slicing off the burnt bottom, I then put the biscuit back in the hot pan to sear the bottom of the biscuit.

#5DadsGoWild

Cutting up Daikon Radish – because nobody took a picture of me breaking down the chicken!

The House of Knives Fusion Classic Chef’s knife is an incredibly affordable option for the home chef – they retail for less than $100 at the House of Knives.

Later in the day I took part in a discussion about “how to save money on your grocery bill” and one of the easiest things to do to save money is to buy a whole chicken rather than buying chicken parts. However, what do you do with a whole chicken?

Well, I now know how to “break down” a chicken! I used my Fusion Classic Chef’s knife to cut the bird into parts: wings, drumsticks, thighs, and breasts (with the “tenders” separated out). And of course at the end you have the carcass left over to toss in a pot with some chopped up carrots and onions to make a stock.

The good thing about the House of Knives Fusion Classic Chef’s knife is that the blade is made from German steel making it a little softer and therefore more durable than the traditional Japanese steel blade so if you do like me and hit the bone when breaking down a chicken, there is very little chance you will chip your knife blade.

I was thinking about baking the biscuits on the Casus Grill – another sponsor for our trip but Dale from Parenting 101 was busy cooking up burgers and peach cobbler on the Casus so I stayed out of the chef’s way.

#5DadsGoWIldBut the Casus Grill – what a crazy cool idea. The grill is made from CARDBOARD!! Yes, cardboard. And the charcoal briquettes – from bamboo! and the grill that you set your food on? Yes, bamboo!

As you probably know, bamboo grows like wild around the world. It doesn’t need fertilizers or irrigation. There is no need for pesticides. And while it is growing, bamboo absorbs more carbon dioxide than cotton or timber.

To light the grill you simply hold a flame to the briquette in the corner and within minutes the entire grill is “white” hot. Place the bamboo rack over the briquettes and get ready to cook! And what do you do with the Casus Grill after you are done grilling? Either drop it all in the fire pit or let it cool off and it will biodegrade within 6 months.

But the best part of the Casus Grill? It costs $10. That’s it. $10. No more buying those little propane bottles that get tossed into the landfill. For $10 you get a biodegradable grill.

I will talk more about our 5DadsGoWild trip in the coming days – including a chat about our attempt to make gravy from the McSweeney’s beef jerky and of course the wine pairing we did with the Sumac Ridge wines we brought along.

Be sure to follow the other dad bloggers who were on the trip with me:

And you can also follow the #5DadsGoWild hashtag on social media – Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for ongoing sharing of our pictures from our adventures. 

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5 Dads Go Wild and We All Survived!

Disclosure – this blog post is about the #5DadsGoWild camping trip to Manning Park that I took with four other dad bloggers. Our trip was supported with products from a group of brands including Filson, Ben Sherman, and Ford Canada. As always, editorial control of everything I share on my blog remains with me – all opinions expressed here are my own. 

I am very happy to say that we all survived our #5DadsGoWild camping trip up to Manning Park. You might even say we “thrived” on the camping trip – mostly because because of the top quality gear and clothing that we brought along.

The first and most important thing for any trip where you are going to be outdoors – for the day or overnight – other than having a steady supply of Bluemoose Coffee, is being properly dressed for the occasion. This is particularly true when going camping in mid-September – especially when the forecast calls for temperatures to minus one and possible snow flurries.

#5DadsGoWild

Filson supported our #5DadsGoWild trip by offering each of us dad bloggers a shirt and a hat to wear while we were on our camping trip. I chose to go with a Filson Lightweight Alaskan Guide shirt.

An all-season version of our iconic shirt, the Filson Lightweight Alaskan Guide Shirt is made with a 5-oz. cotton that’s pre-washed for a broken-in feel and vintage appearance. A pleated back and relaxed fit provide a full range of motion through the shoulders. This versatile shirt is built to last through years of wearing.

We knew ahead of time that the weather was going to be “iffy” and as it turned out, it did not snow but it certainly was chilly at just over 4000 feet elevation. Knowing the potential weather conditions prompted me to go with the warm and yet comfortable shirt.

The hat I chose to wear was the Wool Logger Cap – made from 100% virgin Mackinaw Wool and it is water-repellant.

#5DadsGoWild

 

Knowing that there was a pretty good chance that it would be raining at some point during the weekend, my choice of a wool hat had more to do with strategy than style – wool will keep you warm even if it does get wet. And yes, although we did have some rain showers – I was warm, comfortable, and definitely stylish in my Filson gear.

#5DadsGoWild

However, during the #5DadsGoWild camping trip we were not just hanging around the campfire telling scary stories of dial-up internet connections and making s’mores all weekend. There was serious business to be taken care – including leading discussion groups and test driving the trucks that Ford Canada provided us with for our weekend away – more about those awesome trucks later this week. And if I am going to be leading a discussion – I want to look stylish!

#5DadsGoWild

Thanks to another Ben Sherman Canada, another one of our sponsors, I did look great. Like Filson, Ben Sherman let us choose our outfits and I decided to go for a look that would set me apart from the crowd – on the trails around the Lightning Lakes as well as during our discussion sessions and back home in the office.

The printed floral trousers are described as “skinny leg” and although I am no longer a “skinny-legged hipster” I have to admit, I was concerned how the Ben Sherman trousers would fit my legs (never mind my butt!). And yet – they fit great! As I moved and hiked about, the trousers I chose, the printed floral trousers loosened up and became very comfortable. Stylish and comfortable? Yes please!

And of course the long sleeve Ben Sherman chambray tulip shirt I was wearing got all the attention of the other hikers on the trails. Perhaps not best suited for a hiking trail, but I was probably the most fashionable looking hiker on the trails of Manning Park over the weekend!

I will add a couple more blog posts in the next few days to talk about the Ford trucks, all the cool tools we learned how to use in the kitchen, as well as some of the new skills I picked up from the other dad bloggers who joined me on the trip.

And the names of those other dad bloggers:

I also encourage you to check out the hashtag #5DadsGoWild on all the social media channels – Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to get more images of the fun that we had at this very inspiring event. More to come in the next few days!

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The Choices of a Self-Driving Car

When we talk about self-driving cars (cars controlled by computers), people often go to the “what if situations”.

The situation people often go they often go to is “what if the car has to choose between running over a pedestrian or an animal or swerving and hitting a wall and thereby killing or badly injuring the driver.”

I often hear this “what if” posed to show just how dangerous self-driving cars will be. People say how will the computer make that decision? Who’s life will it place more value on?

Another interesting question is what would YOU do if you had to make the decision to run over a pedestrian or run your car into a wall? What would any human do in that situation?

What would you do if you had to choose between someone else’s life and your own well-being?

Interesting that we want to know what a computer would do but we rarely stop and consider how humans make decisions that impact life and death.

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The New Kitchen Floor; Plywood Plank Floor

Finally, the kitchen floor update! To cut right to the chase I will say that I put plywood plank floors in our kitchen. Yes, a plywood plank floor.plywood plank floorAnd I have to say, they look and feel incredible. plywood plank flooringI started by stripping off all the existing flooring – the top layer of crappy looking laminate flooring and then the layer of parkay flooring that the laminate had been installed over top of. In case you don’t know, parkay flooring is made of those little wood squares that go together sort of like wooden tiles. It looks okay but I was going for a totally new look.

plywood plank flooringOnce the flooring was out, the big question – what to replace it with! I didn’t have enough of the laminate that was going in the living room and dining room, primarily because there was no plan to do the kitchen at this time. So what to do?

I was voicing my frustration about what to do for a new floor to a friend who knows loads about construction and home renovation when I said, “I am ALMOST ready to just paint the plywood floor and be done with this project.”

He replied, “Well, you know that is what the neighbour did.” And a light bulb lit up for me! So off to Pinterest and YouTube I went to learn more! And that is where I learned about plywood plank flooring.

Once I had a clear understanding of what I was going to do I headed to the local lumber yard and talked to the people there. First three places they looked at me like I was crazy and basically told me, “You can’t do that. It won’t work.”

To which I replied, “Actually I am going to do this and yes, I am going to make it work. And I will not be spending my money in your store.”

Plywood Plank FloorThen I met Brad at the Rona store near Coquitlam Centre who said, “What an interesting idea! I have never heard of that but it sure sounds interesting. How can I help you?” Please note, this is NOT a sponsored post for Rona – it is a quick shout-out to someone who knows what customer service looks like. Plywood Plank FloorWe dug through the pile of “good one side plywood” until we found two sheets of pine plywood with an interesting grain pattern. And then I had Brad “rip” the sheets of plywood into 6″ wide strips.

Plywood Plank FloorStrips of plywood that I could then take home very easily and begin to stain to the colour that I wanted for my kitchen floors.

This is where my decision making got a little complicated. I knew that the grain and the colour and the overall look of the plywood plank would be different from the look of the laminate that was going into the adjacent dining room, so I decided to try to match the colour and look of the plywood plank to the trim of the kitchen cabinets and have a strong contrast to the colour and look of the flooring in the dining room/living room.

And yes, I know that my realtor friends say that I will NEVER be able to sell the house if I have more than two types of flooring on one floor of the house but really, at this point, it is our HOME – not a house we are thinking of selling and if/when we do decide to sell, we’ll cross that bridge. 
Plywood Plank Floor
So I bought a litre can of Ipswich Pine stain and a litre of polyurethane (a finishing-sealer like product). Plywood Plank FloorYou can see in difference between the “raw” colour of the plywood plank and the colour of the plywood planks that have their first coat of stain.

I wasn’t happy with the lightness of the stain, even with two coats of it applied so I went back and bought another litre of stain (Colonial Maple or something like that).

A note here – my stain was probably not as dark as I would have liked because I did not stir the first can as thoroughly as I should have. The “colour stuff” in the stain settles to the bottom of the can and if you do not stir it with that in mind, you will have a VERY light stain.

Like I did. Stir thoroughly!
Plywood Plank Floor
To be honest, the picture above was taken inside in a very different light than the one previously and it is after three coats of stain AND a first coat of polyurethane.

Which reminds me – this is where I diverged from the path that most people. They installed the plywood planks without any stain or finish on them. I couldn’t see any reason why that would be the case so I took the time to apply stain and polyurethane to the plywood planks BEFORE even bringing them in the house. I figured that would significantly reduce the amount of chemical smell in the house (I was correct).

And then the install. I had Darryl, a good friend who knows about home renovations help me with the install and I will say, installing the plywood plank flooring was, not easy, but easy to work with. Dealing with the plywood planks felt more natural than any other flooring I have ever worked with. plywood plank floorsWe took the time to fit the pieces together with an eye on the pattern of the grain and what the overall look of the floor would be once it was finished. Some of the people who I read about doing plywood plank floors glued their planks to the floor. Others said that might be good to eliminate spring from the flooring but it also might create a mess when or if you want to remove the plywood.

We decided to just use the Brad Nailer with 1 1/4″ brad nails to hold the flooring in place. And, my friend Darryl saved me from myself (I am a framer – NOT a finisher!) and he forced advised me to use a straight edge to keep my rows of nails in a straight line.

And I will admit, that kind of attention to detail really paid off in the end!
plywood plank floor
This last photo is after I added another coat of polyurethane to the floor once it was installed. And my hunch about doing the staining and polyurethane outside to reduce chemical odours in the house was proved true. Yikes.

I did the final coat of polyurethane on the floors and what a smell! Fortunately the weather has been great so I left all the doors and windows open with fans running to move the air. Even so, the polyurethane smell stuck around for three days.

The end result – we have a pretty spectacular new plywood plank floor in our kitchen! Yes, there are three butt-joints that aren’t as pretty as I would have liked and yes, there is a little bit of spring to the boards when I walk on them. And yes, this plywood plank floor is probably not going to last as long as a vinyl plank or a real hardwood floor would last, but all things considered, my plywood plank floor is beautiful.

I would not hesitate to do this again. Now, to see how well this floor stands up to the traffic of a wild family.

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The New Flooring Renovation Project Part 2

I am up to my eyeballs involved in this ever-growing home renovation, home-improvement nightmare job that I’ve taken on and I have not taken the time to sit down at my desk to write anything about it. Yet.

Home renovations

I have been taking many photos and once I get this job done, or even get to take a breather, I’ll update with more info and lots of photos.

But just as a teaser, I will say that my “experimental” kitchen flooring technique has worked out incredibly well – no hints about what I chose to do just yet! It looks spectacular though! And no, the picture above is not of the kitchen.

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The New Flooring Renovation Project

Probably not the smartest thing I have ever done, but with basically two weeks left in my summer break, I decided to install in our living room and dining room the laminate flooring we purchased about two years ago (maybe three years ago).

plywood plank flooring

To start, I moved all of our living room and dining room furniture out of those rooms and “stored” it in our family room. This just added an extra bit of chaos to our already chaotic lives.

plywood plank flooring

Next, I pulled up all the carpet and underlay from the living room/dining room floors. For this task I think I was pretty clever because I cut the carpet into three foot wide strips. That made it much easier to carry outside. Getting smarter in my advanced years! If I was really smart I would hang a sign on the old carpet saying “free” and have someone else take away what I’m probably going to have to pay to get rid of.

plywood plank flooring

Then I started doing the “prep” work. This is the stuff that takes forever and is really tedious but makes the actual “doing the job” much easier and simpler.

I spent a day bent doubled over pulling staples and nails from the plywood flooring. Ugly work but it sure does make the finished project look and feel better!

plywood plank flooring

And then, because renovation projects are like this, the words “well seeing as you have the floors out, why not…”

So now I’m prepping the walls for a fresh coat of paint. You know, remove all the outlet covers, dab filler into the picture hanger holes in the walls, taping up window sills…and so on.

And well seeing as you have the tv out of the room, why not put in one of those wall mount tv things? “Project creep” is setting in. Big time.

plywood plank flooring

“You know, the dishwasher is broken and it has the ugly floor in front of it…” so now I remove laminate flooring from kitchen floor. And under the laminate flooring is old school “parkay” flooring.

plywood plank flooring

The parkay actually comes up and out pretty easily. But then the question is, what do we put back in place of the laminate flooring in the kitchen? And what about that broken down dishwasher?

We don’t have enough laminate to do the living room, dining room AND kitchen so…back to the flooring store.

No luck there. The company that made our flooring was bought by another company and they discontinued that line of flooring. Used flooring stores don’t have any in stock.

plywood plank flooring

So what to do? A different colour of laminate for the kitchen? Or vinyl plank? Porcelain tiles? Or maybe vinyl sheet flooring (read that as linoleum). Every option has more negatives than there are positives. Ugh.

plywood plank flooring

It got so frustrating that I eventually said to my buddy, “I’m just about ready to just paint the plywood and be done with this project!”

To which he said, “That’s sort of what my neighbor did.”

Which sent me to Pinterest and YouTube to learn more about different ways of finishing floors.

I’ll update you on what option I have decided to use once I know what I’m doing! Tomorrow is another day of prep work. And I’ve also quite wisely decided to encourage my wife and kids to take a few days away from home – they were already learning too much colourful language! With them away I’ll be able to get a few more hours of work a day done.

Stay tuned for what tomorrow will bring! It is decision day!

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My Thoughts on Christopher Robin the Movie

Earlier this week I went with my kids to see the movie Christopher Robin – or what my kids called “the Winnie the Pooh movie”.

Of course no spoilers here, but I will say that while my kids enjoyed the movie as a piece of entertainment, the Christopher Robin movie was very meaningful to me as a dad than – probably more so than it was to my kids.

Make no mistake, my kids loved the movie. They loved seeing Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, and all the other characters “come alive”.

My kids enjoyed the movie as a piece of entertainment. They enjoyed seeing Pooh Bear getting into mischief and causing all sorts of mayhem. They particularly liked the line where Pooh says, “I am a bear of very little brain.” They thought this was adorable. It was.

However, for me the movie made me question and think about my choices and how I am as a dad. It made me think about my priorities and what are the things that I value.

The Christopher Robin movie is worth seeing. For kids and adults alike.

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Rad Power Bikes RadRover; Follow Up Video

Now that I have put more than 500 kilometres on my Rad Power Bikes RadRover, I decided to sit down and put together a sort of “top ten list” of my thoughts, observations, and impressions of the bike.

Here they are:

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BBQ Pit Boys Inspired Bacon and Egg Pie

I was surfing around the YouTube the other day watching videos about grilling and smoking meat when I stumbled across the Barbecue Pit Boys making a Bacon and Egg Pie. What a riot.

My favourite line from their video – after they have added 18 eggs to the two and a half pounds of bacon, “This is enough to feed 8 people but the three of us are just going to eat this.”

Bacon and Egg Pie

They were grilling a Bacon and Egg Pie and it intrigued me. Although I do not have a grill capable of grilling the way they do, I did the Dad in the Burbs thing and came up with a work around – I baked my Bacon and Egg Pie in the oven rather than on the grill.

I also scaled my dish back from the 2 1/2 pounds of bacon and 18 eggs. I used a pound of bacon and 8 eggs (thinking I was cooking for four people).

Bacon and Egg Pie

The ingredients are simple: bacon, eggs, an onion, potato chips, and some shredded cheese. A word to the wise – get good bacon. “Discount” bacon is not a bargain.

Bacon and Egg Pie

First thing to do is to cook the bacon – cook it about 3/4 of the way. Do not cook it until it is crispy because you will need to “work” with it after partially cooking it.

At this point I made my second mistake – I did not cook the bacon nearly enough. Make sure the bacon is about 3 quarters cooked. It’ll be better in the long run. And perhaps my second mistake – I added a shake of seasoning salt to the bacon before cooking it. Don’t do that. Trust me. It will be too salty in the end.

Bacon and Egg Pie

Once you have the bacon good and partially cooked, roll the strips up to make them look like bacon roses and arrange them in a cast iron pan.

To roll up the bacon I started with one strip and overlapped a second strip onto the end of the first strip and rolled them together. The goal is to make good sized bacon roses to put in the pan.

Bacon and Egg Pie

Once you have the bacon all rolled and positioned in the pan, add eggs. Look at it and get creative. Look for where an egg would nest in between the bacon roses and look nice in the pan. Essentially, you are making a bacon quiche – just don’t tell the BBQ Pit Boys that I said that!

The eggs are going to cook and bind all that bacon together.

Bacon and Egg Pie

Once the eggs are in place, sprinkle diced onion on top of the bacon and eggs. I used an 8″ cast pan for my Bacon and Egg Pie so I only needed half an onion. Bigger pan, more bacon, more eggs, more onion. You can do the math.

When I try this again, I will consider giving the onions a little heat to soften them up before adding them to the pan. That might make them a little sweeter. Just something to think about.

Bacon and Egg Pie

Bacon, eggs, onions in the pan and into the oven for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees. I figured that I would cook a quiche for about about an hour at 350 so…why not try that with this Bacon and Egg Pie?

After 40 minutes I took the pan out of the oven and sprinkled a mix of crushed potato chips and shredded cheese on top. As the BBQ Pit Boys said, the potato chips will add a bit of starch to the bacon and eggs and give it a bit of crunch when you are eating it. And then I fired it back in the oven for another 20 minutes. The shredded cheese? I found a bag of Tex-Mex shredded cheese in the fridge so that is what I used.

Bacon and Egg Pie

Twenty minutes later I pulled it from the oven and I have to say, it looked awesome.

I let it rest up before cutting into it because it is very much like quiche or a lasagna and it needs to firm up before you cut into. Five minutes later and I was serving breakfast.

A couple observations – as I said earlier, don’t add any salt. If anything, give it a grind of black pepper. The bacon adds more than enough salty flavour to the dish. As well, use a good quality bacon. Discount bacon is just a fatty, grisly mess to work with. And cook that bacon pretty close to being done without letting it get crispy.

No, this is not a quick breakfast. I got started before the kids were awake and it was not ready until quite awhile after they were up. Including prep time, it took me about an hour and half to make this dish.

The bottom line – one kid liked it, the other kid looked at it and walked out of the room. I liked it and ate it even though it was too salty. I will be making it again – with the lessons I learned.

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The Farmhouse Kitchen Table

After many, many years, my farmhouse kitchen table is in use.

Farmhouse Kitchen Table

Last weekend I took it to our cabin, removed the existing kitchen and set up my new homemade farmhouse kitchen table.

Farmhouse Kitchen Table

If you remember, this is a table I created. I actually cut down the tree, milled the logs into lumber, and then let that lumber dry for about ten years. Maybe 15 years. Regardless, the lumber was aging and drying for a very long time.

Farmhouse Kitchen Table

And now here it is! Installed in my cabin kitchen – my very own farmhouse kitchen table. Made by me. For me and my kids to sit at and eat. And play LEGO.

Farmhouse Kitchen Table

My farmhouse kitchen table. In my cabin. Ready for my family to sit at, eat at, and to create memories at. I am pleased.

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