Backpacking with Kids Doesn’t Have to Suck

From Katie Arnold in Outside Magazine.

Backpacking with Kids Doesn’t Have to Suck

Unlike river trips, backpacking is less about what you bring and more about what you leave behind. It takes surprisingly little to make a home in the wilderness. A snug, well-lit tent, a couple pouches of dehydrated food, the ones you love curled up beside you in the silent, star-filled evening. As darkness settled over the river, we were all beginning to settle more deeply into the canyon. 

In the morning, everything was bright, the gorge just waking up, and my fear had lifted. Pete and I ran along the River Trail, winding three miles south to La Junta, the confluence of the Red River and the Rio Grande, with one eye on the trail for snakes, the other on the river, moving sure and fast beside us. Steve and the girls fished the eddies and checked out petroglyphs etched into a jumble of boulders. On the mile-long hike back out, the girls played musical packs again. At least Pete wore his the whole way.

On backcountry adventures, the ratio of prep work to fun can make or break a trip. One night on a family river trip would be insane. Two nights is never enough, and three just barely satisfies. But backpacking is so minimalist and required so little prep that a single night was all we needed to give us our wilderness fix and leave us hungry for more. And when we got home, I discovered the best thing of all about going light and not-so-fast with kids: There’s almost nothing to unpack.

What to enjoy winter more? Take a cue from the Norwegians

The Norwegians do winter really well.  Here is how they do it.

Norwegian town in winter

To be sure, there are some aspects of the near-polar culture that might be hard to emulate elsewhere. Small Norwegian communities are tightly knit, and strong social ties increase well-being everywhere. That said, there are lessons that can help anyonethink differently about cold weather.

First, Norwegians celebrate the things one can only do in winter. “People couldn’t wait for the ski season to start,” says Leibowitz. Getting outside is a known mood booster, and so Norwegians keep going outside, whatever is happening out there. Notes Leibowitz: “There’s a saying that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

Norwegians also have a word, koselig, that means a sense of coziness. It’s like the best parts of Christmas, without all the stress. People light candles, light fires, drink warm beverages, and sit under fuzzy blankets. There’s a community aspect to it too; it’s not just an excuse to sit on the couch watching Netflix. Leibowitz reports that Tromsø had plenty of festivals and community activities creating the sense that everyone was in it together.

And finally, people are enamored with the sheer beauty of the season. Leibowitz grew up near the Jersey shore, and “I just took it as a fact that everyone likes summer the best.” But deep in the winter in Norway, when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon, multiple hours a day can still look like sunrise and sunset, and against the snow, “the colors are incredibly beautiful,” she says. “The light is very soft and indirect.”

Most likely you can’t cross-country ski straight out of your house, and while Norwegian sweaters may be catching on, restaurants and coffee shops in more temperate climates don’t all feature the fireplaces and candles common to the far north. Still, there are little things non-Norwegians can do. “One of the things we do a lot of in the States is we bond by complaining about the winter,” says Leibowitz. “It’s hard to have a positive wintertime mindset when we make small talk by being negative about the winter.”

This is easy enough to change; simply refuse to participate in the Misery Olympics. Talk about how the cold gives you a chance to drink tea or hot chocolate all day. Talk about ice skating, or building snowmen. Bundle up and go for a walk outside, knowing that you’ll likely feel warmer and happier after a few minutes. Better yet, go with a friend. Social plans are a great reason to haul yourself out from under the covers.

But overall, mindset research is increasingly finding that it doesn’t take much to shift one’s thinking. “It doesn’t have to be this huge complicated thing,” says Leibowitz. “You can just consciously try to have a positive wintertime mindset and that might be enough to induce it.”

Avenue Edmonton has some ideas for winterizing your deck

How to Winterize Your Deck

A roaring fire is essential for any sub-zero soiree. Marshall’s monumental outdoor wood-burning fireplace ideally blends contemporary design with the rustic charm of burning logs and the convenience of natural gas. It’s a design focal point that leaves room for a view of the birch trees beyond. Plus, it’s fitted with a gas log starter so you don’t have to be a boy scout to get the fire going and keep it cheerfully burning. 

Since we don’t all have a fireplace professionally built into the deck, portable ones of all sizes, styles and prices are the next best thing. For an elegant, eco-friendly solution, Marshall suggests looking at a model by EcoSmart Fire. They’re beautifully designed, fuss-free and fuelled with clean-burning bioethanol. Budget friendlier solutions include metal tables with built-in fire pits, fire bowls and chimneys — just take care to place these on a large frost-resistant stone or porcelain tile surface. Marshall places a large tile in front of her fireplace to protect the wood deck from any stray embers.

Biting wind is an unwelcome party crasher, so arrange furnishings and other elements in such a way that creates a cozy enclave. Start by making sure your sofa and/or chairs are a comfortable distance from the fire and draped with plush throws for added warmth and texture. Tip: If you’re stoking a wood-burning fire, be sure to have logs nearby so that guests aren’t shivering while you trek off to a distant wood pile to replenish. Here, ample firewood is stacked in stylish pewter log holders right next to the fireplace.

In Marshall’s space, the height of the fence and walls are intended for privacy, but it also helps block wind from the seating areas. If you don’t have a fence, try flanking your seating area with tall potted cedars or winter planters (more on these later), which are pretty and practical.

Jordon also posted a list of things that you can do in Saskatoon in the winter

The Last Days of Wylie Dufresne’s New York City Restaurant

On Nov. 30, 2014, many of the food world’s biggest names arrived at 50 Clinton Street in the city’s Lower East Side. David Chang was there. Daniel Boulud too. The chefs were among the 72 diners who ate foie gras in the round, scrambled egg ravioli and nine other courses of Wylie Dufresne’s avant-garde, era-defining cooking.

They came for the last supper at wd-50. Dufresne’s playful, challenging restaurant closed its doors for good that night. The restaurant was a victim of his own success: by bringing three-star cuisine to a once gritty neighborhood Dufresne helped drive up the area’s prices and welcome in luxury development. His landlord had decided to turn the restaurant into an apartment building.

wd-50 opened in 2003 to head-scratching reviews, its style of molecular gastronomy viewed by many of the city’s top critics as not much more than a whole lot of foam. But over the years, Dufresne won admirers, taking his namesake restaurant from underestimated to beloved. New York’s chefs and most avid eaters were losing a landmark institution. Where could they go now to get wild inventions like noodles made from meat and grits made from shrimp?

During its last days, wd-50 opened its doors to TIME’s cameras, providing a rare glimpse into its final service and its dismantling. And earlier this month, Dufresne announced plans for a new restaurant to open in Manhattan’s Financial District in 2016. He’s still cooking at Alder, his restaurant in New York’s East Village.

“Our goal was to add to the dialogue, to add to the body of knowledge,” Dufresne says of wd-50. “There are things that we’ve been a part of that are gonna be in kitchens from here on.”

Slow Cooker French Dip Recipe

I love to cook a traditional Christmas dinner with the turkey, favorite side dishes, stuffing, and all of that stuff.  This year we have some plans for Christmas afternoon which meant that I either stay at home and be a stickler for tradition or come up with something else.  Jordon suggested going all in on a slow roasted roast beef and have French Dip sandwiches and I liked the idea.  I am planning on doing up some French Fries, salad, and another side but this will fun.

Anyway, this is the recipe I tried, it worked well although I did add some Worcestershire sauce and garlic to the mix…


  • 4 pounds rump roast
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can beef broth
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed French onion soup
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer (Guinness is recommended)
  • 6 French rolls
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Touch of Worcestershire sauce.


  1. Trim excess fat from the rump roast, and place in a slow cooker. Add the beef broth, onion soup and beer, splash of Worcestershire sauce. Cook on Low setting for 7 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  3. Split French rolls, and spread with butter. Bake 10 minutes, or until heated through.
  4. Slice the meat on the diagonal and then return to the crockpot for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the meal slices and place on the rolls. Serve the sauce for dipping.

via All Recipes (check out the comments, there are some great suggestions for the broth)

Apple Crisp Recipe

I don’t know why we never made this recipe growing up, it is an amazing dessert.

Apple Crisp Dessert Recipe


  • 4 medium tart cooking apples, sliced (4 cups)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Ice Cream or whipped cream


  1. Heat oven to 375ºF. Grease bottom and sides of 8-inch square pan with shortening.
  2. Spread apples in pan. In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients except cream until well mixed; sprinkle over apples.
  3. Bake about 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm with cream.

How do you pick the 50 best restaurants in the world?

From the New Yorker Food Issue, Lauren Collins examines how the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list comes together.

The project was intended as a onetime stunt. It nonetheless had some feeling behind it. At a moment when low-cost airlines had rendered Portugal as accessible as Portsmouth, Maillard and his colleagues considered the idea of restricting the conversation to a single geographical area (in the manner of the Michelin guide) an anachronism. They were also put off by Michelin’s gray-faced sensibility, its predilection for “daunting cheffy masterpieces in near-silent rooms,” as Maillard has said. Where would you want to go, they asked themselves, if you weren’t French, rich, or old? “We put the list together by calling contacts and friends all over the world and eliciting recommendations, then added in our own suggestions, and ordered it in a rather slapdash manner,” Maillard recalled. “Which all sounds a bit loose and random, but, in its first year, the list wasn’t intended to be at all definitive.”

ElBulli, a three-Michelin-star restaurant, came in first. But many of the winners—a Canadian B.Y.O.B. farmhouse, an open-air meat buffet in Kenya—embodied a more capacious notion of merit. Some of them had average food in an exceptional setting. Or they were flaky but did one great dish. In the guise of authoritativeness, the editors were making an argument: that fun mattered; that apricot-colored napkins folded into bishops’ hats didn’t; that inspiration could trump technique; that pleasure was as worthwhile a pursuit as perfection; that the Ambrosia Burger at Nepenthe (No. 34), a café on a cliff in Big Sur, could hold its own—at least, as an experience—with the gargouillou at Michel Bras (No. 40). Their selection was provocative, if not totally persuasive. Their twelfth-favorite restaurant in the world was Tangerine, a Casbah-themed Philadelphia restaurant that closed in 2009.

The editors figured the list was a good excuse for a party. They sent out invitations, anticipating a tepid response; almost all of the honorees accepted. The first World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony was held at a Mayfair restaurant called Hush, started by the actor Roger Moore’s son Geoffrey. The chefs had to buy their own drinks. But the event presented them with an opportunity to let loose in the company of peers, a rarity in a profession whose working hours coincide precisely with those during which most people like to go out. Maillard told me, “Roger himself—James Bond!—turned up to m.c., and the evening went surprisingly well. The highlight was when Albert Adrià, of elBulli, made an acceptance speech entirely in Catalan. Roger translated it as ‘Actually, I preferred Sean Connery.’ ”

The party became, for the chefs, a treasured annual debauch. “They’d move around London in packs,” Jay Rayner, the restaurant critic of the Observer, recalled. “They’d eat at each other’s restaurants. There would be a lunch after, where everyone was very hung over.” The awards—and the pre-parties and after parties that surrounded them, like inaugural balls—were an early stop on the symposium circuit to which modern chefs devote so much effort. (Next year, the awards will be held outside of London for the first time, in New York.)They were an incubator of alliances, the war where the stories formed. The food writer Andrea Petrini remembers the Italian chef Davide Scabin going missing in action one night and resurfacing the next afternoon, having attended a party in “a huge country house, like the one in ‘Eyes Wide Shut.’ ” The Danish prodigy René Redzepi passed his phone around, pressing his wife’s sonogram on anyone who would look.

Because the chefs came, the list mattered, and because the list mattered the chefs came. It was a question of reputation, but also of profit. Even if the majority of the world’s restaurants have no interest in—or chance of—getting on the list, for the most ambitious ones inclusion can be the difference between obscurity and renown. Joannès Rivière, the chef and owner of Cuisine Wat Damnak, which is situated in a traditional Khmer house in Siem Reap, Cambodia, appeared on the Asia list for the first time this year, at No. 50. Rivière told me that his low-season turnover had increased by fifty per cent since the announcement. “June is our slowest month, and, on the slowest nights, we usually do fifteen guests,” he said. “This year, we never had fewer than thirty.” Redzepi, of Noma—which, to this day, has only two Michelin stars—has been open about the fact that the 50 Best helped to turn around his business. According to Bloomberg, the day after Noma captured the No. 1 slot, in 2010, a hundred thousand people tried to book a table. Three years later, when El Celler de Can Roca, in Girona, Spain, outranked Noma for the first time, its Web site received two and a half million hits in twenty-four hours. The waiting list ballooned to a year.

“The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards are the dish du jour, leaving the French culinary guides looking like cold potatoes,” the London Sunday Times proclaimed last year, asserting that the 50 Best had become the food industry’s mightiest arbiter. Even accounting for national chauvinism, there is no doubt that the 50 Best has gone from a lark to a behemoth. Its main sponsors are San Pellegrino and Acqua Panna. Chefs play to the list, mindful of its aesthetic preferences and its methodological weaknesses.

At Eleven Madison Park, as John Colapinto wrote in this magazine, Daniel Humm and Will Guidara devised an entire program of changes motivated in part by the perception that “the San Pellegrino voters reward restaurants with a strong sense of place, and of theatre.” They included a three-card-monte dessert and—further belaboring the locavore trend—a cheese-and-beer course that emerged from an old-fashioned Central Park picnic basket. Ned Frame, who worked as a captain there, told me that employees were encouraged to participate in something called the Ownership Program, under which they were made responsible for a certain aspect—say, silverware or coffee—of the restaurant’s experience. Part of the program was a series of talks called “Notes from the Kitchen,” some installments of which covered the 50 Best list. Frame and several colleagues were assigned to research each of the top ten winners and to present their findings to the entire staff.

“I have friends who are smart, interesting guys who lose their shit over getting No. 1,” the chef David Chang told me. Last year, he recalled, he balked at attending the awards ceremony, in London. “Eric Ripert”—of Le Bernardin—“told me, ‘I think you should go.’ ” Chang said, “I can criticize it all I want, but it’s so powerful.”

“What do you have that justifies its calories?”

The Web site Daily Meal recently ran an article that, citing a debate on Twitter, questioned the credibility of the 50 Best awards: “The Oscars of the Food World or a Complete Schmozzle?” They are probably both, in that they are indispensable to the industry—in terms of both its bottom line and its self-regard—even as they command less respect than attention. “It’s a silly, silly list,” Frank Bruni, the former Times restaurant critic, said. “But you need someone to collapse the universe for you. As surely as the nineteen-fifties housewife turned to Consumer Reports to figure out whether to get a Maytag or an Electrolux, the 2015 gourmand is turning to San Pellegrino.” The 50 Best, which is as much about a sort of competitive hedonism as it is about connoisseurship, is the restaurant guide its era demands—edible clickbait, a Baedeker’s for bucket-listers. If the wine industry has become Parkerized, then the restaurant world might be said to have been Pellegrinoed.