Mt. Robson and Kinney Lake, Canada

Mt. Robson and Kinney Lake, Canada - Almost Bananas

Mt. Robson is a towering giant of a mountain, both in height and width. At a height of 3,954 m (12,972 ft), Mt. Robson is the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies, and second in British Columbia. What makes it so impressive to look at, however, is the prominence, the distance from the peak to the surrounding area (the lowest encircling contour line, if you must know) – basically how high the mountain looks from the valley floor. With a prominence of 2,829 m (9,281 ft), the mountain is 7th in Canada and 21st in all of North America.

Mt. Robson Provincial Park has been around since 1913, which is something when you consider that hardly anybody lived in the valley. One of the few routes through the Rocky Mountains passes by Mt. Robson, however, and so it has long (relatively, as this is western Canada after all) been an object of admiration and awe.  Click to continue reading

Lokše: Slovak Potato Flatbread (regular and gluten-free)

Lokše: Slovak Potato Flatbread (regular and gluten-free)


A classic Slovak food, especially through the fall and winter, is lokše. Made mostly of potatoes, these are always at markets with various fillings. During the fall they are often served with duck or goose – and the duck or goose fat. And because it’s the potatoes that hold the flatbread together, they are a perfect candidate for making gluten-free.

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Mt. Trudeau, Canada

Mt. Trudeau trail, Valemount, BC, Canada

Mt. Trudeau, near Valemount, BC, Canada, contains picturesque valleys and views – but not for the faint of heart.  

This summer our family was fortunate to visit Canada for over two months. With a few pauses on the West coast, we spent all our time in my hometown of Valemount, BC.

High on the To Do List was get in as much hiking as I could, not an easy feat with four children. When a friend organized a group to go hiking up Mt. Trudeau, therefore, I jumped at the chance. Who better to hike with children than a large group of enthusiastic but laid back young people?

The mountain’s full name is Mt. Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Officially named in 2006, it belongs to the Premier Range which has been set aside to honour former prime ministers of Canada. The peak rises to 2,640 m (8,661 ft).

Mt. Trudeau is a favourite hike of mine, for the simple fact that it’s a shortish hike to get out of the forest and have beautiful views. Notice I said short, not easy.

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Slovak Style Egg Spread

Slovak style egg spread - can you guess the ingredients?

Some say that everything is better with butter. With Slovaks, that extends to egg spread.

Yes, butter as a base with egg spread. When I first saw my mother in law making Slovak egg spread, I raised my eyebrows. Butter? But then I tasted it and became a firm fan.

Sometimes egg mixtures can be a spread or a salad, like my recipe 3-Ingredient Egg Salad/Spread. This is definitely a spread, not a salad.

It’s a fast and filling meal to make, whether you don’t want to cook because the weather is still hot or because you’ve got to eat in five minutes.

Butter is making a comeback after being vilified for years, which is great because it tastes amazing. So get in even more butter with Slovak Style Egg Spread!

Slovak style egg spread - can you guess the surprise ingredient?

Slovak Style Egg Spread
  • 5 eggs
  • ½ cup (125 ml) butter, softened
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • onion
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Make hardboiled eggs according to your preferred method. I boil them for an undefined amount of time while I forget about them, and then remember - oh, my eggs! Cool in cold water.
  2. When cold enough, peel eggs and chop. Mix with softened butter, mustard, chopped onion (according to taste) and salt and pepper. The amount of salt will depend on whether your butter is salted or not.
  3. Garnish with chopped chives or parsley if desired.
  4. Spread on bread, crackers, flatbread, etc or use as a dip. Enjoy!

An Antiques Bazaar, A Goulash Cook-off, and Honey Drinks

Antiques Bazaar in Slovakia - Almost Bananas

Nearby where I live is Červený Kameň, a preserved castle/museum that regularly hosts cultural events like medieval festivals and, in this instance, antique bazaars.

Well, to call it an antique bazaar might be stretching it a bit. There are swords and furniture and old books. There was also plenty of what my British friend calls ‘tat’, which urban dictionary tells me refers “to the kind of junk sold by crafty Cockneys to unsuspecting tourists in central London.” But then again, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

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Cherry Blossoms in the Morning Sun (and other photos of spring)

Cherry Blossoms in Morning Sun in Slovakia - Almost Bananas

Spring is my favourite season in western Slovakia. The sun starts showing itself again, new signs of plant life begin to appear. Bear garlic, the European version of ramps, carpets the forest. And the trees burst into bloom.

March was a month of chicken pox here, and we limped into Easter. On Palm Sunday, instead of palms we use branches of pussy willows at the church.

Pussy Willows - Almost Bananas

Easter Sunday lunch is, of course, rezne (schnitzel) – deep fried breaded cutlets. My oldest daughter loves to cook, here she helps her dad. Hammered pork (sometimes chicken) is dipped first in finely ground flour, then beaten eggs, and then breadcrumbs before being deep fried.

Making schnitzel - Almost Bananas

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Spruce Tea

Spruce Tea - Almost Bananas

This time of year the ends of conifer trees have bright green buds of new growth. Spruce tips, in particular, are easy to use. Last year I made spruce tip ice cream, as well as a syrup with honey, spruce salt, and just dried spruce. I was surprised how sweet the dried spruce smelled; I used it to flavour meat.

The smell of spruce has the ability, at any moment, of instantly transporting me back to the mountains of my childhood.

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Francúzske Zemiaky: Slovak French Potato Casserole

Francuske Zemiaky: Slovak French Potato Casserole - Almost Bananas

This spring has fluctuated up and down – one day it feels like summer is here to stay, a couple days later I wonder if winter ever left. Today a cold north wind is blowing down from the hills, and is the perfect day for a comfort dish like Francúzske zemiaky – a Slovak version of potato gratin.

Potato gratin is a well known side dish, but Slovaks took the side dish and made it into a one pot (pan) meal. As a busy mom, the more simple to a meal is, the better.

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Winter Markets, Fog, and Misc. (Winter 2015/16 photos)

Winter in the Small Carpathians of Slovakia

Now that spring has finally come, at least to my town, I’m finally posting photos from the winter. I blame it on my family genes, always late for everything.

November begins with one of my favourite traditions, visiting the graveyards and honouring the dead. I can’t even come close to capturing the atmosphere. I’ve written about it before: Nov. 1, All Saints Day

All Saints Day in Slovakia

All Saints Day in Slovakia

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Fašiangy: Slovak Carnival is a party time

Fasiangy: Slovak Carnival is time to party

Leftover from observance of Christian seasons, fašiangy is the time between the end of the Christmas season (January 6) and the beginning of Lent. Basically, it’s party time. It’s the time to indulge in rich foods and have fun before the austerity of Lent. This year, we went to a folklore zabava, a family dance in folklore style that was amazing (read on for a picture of me in kroj below).

For children, one day towards the end of the season is designated for dressing up in costumes, usually at school or pre-school. Slovak kids (including my own) don’t know much about Halloween but get excited for to dress up for Karnival.

For adults, fašiangy marks the ball season. Formal dances are planned in smaller towns and cities alike, attended by men in suit and tie and women in uber fancy dresses. Slovaks dance into the not-so-wee hours of the morning, to live or DJed music. There are certain songs that are played every time, that everybody loves and sings along to. Most of them are hits from the 70’s and 80’s. There are usually at least two meals, plus snacks (read here for how much food a Slovak party must have).

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