Friday, June 29

Chunky Monkey Vegan Cookies

 Fern Glen Inn •

I have two different sets of vegan guests coming this weekend and wanted to bake something that could double as a little welcome treat in their rooms but also serve as a baked good on the sideboard at breakfast (in place of the banana bread the omnivores will get).

I browsed a few dozen vegan cookie recipes for inspiration and came up with an end result that I just have to share. They are that good, if I do say so myself. And, no, you don't have to be vegan or have an egg allergy or lactose intolerance to enjoy these babies.

I call them Chunky Monkey cookies because they're chock full of banana, peanut butter, peanuts and dark chocolate chunks. I'll be making them again the next time I have an over-ripe banana.

Chunky Monkey Vegan Cookies

  • 1 tablespoon ground flax seed
  • 3 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 medium very ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/3 cup natural peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil (add an extra tablespoon if your peanut butter is so thick it holds it's shape when scooped)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup chopped dark chocolate (use dairy-free if making vegan)
  • 1/3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

In a small bowl whisk together the ground flax seed with warm water and set aside for at least 20 minutes. It will become somewhat thick and viscous and acts as a replacement for an egg.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the mashed banana, peanut butter and vegetable oil until smooth. Whisk in the sugars, vanilla, and the flax seed mixture.

Sift the flours, baking soda and salt over top and stir until almost combined. Add the rolled oats, chocolate and peanuts and stir until no dry bits remain. Dough will be very thick.

Shape about 2 to 3 tablespoons of dough into a ball (a bit smaller than a ping pong ball). Set on prepared cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Repeat, leaving an inch of space between cookies.

If dough is sticky: wet your hands with cold water and shake off excess before handling dough. The extra moisture won't hurt the cookies. Repeat when your hands get sticky again.

Bake until toasted and dry on the top and golden around the edges, about 11 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet then transfer to a rack to finish cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature. Cool completely before storing in an air-tight container for up to three days or freeze for longer storage.

Makes about 18 cookies.

Wednesday, June 13

Summer Events in Muskoka and Almaguin

July and August are full of organized events of every type including festivals, art gallery tours, competitive sports, live theatre, community fairs, wildlife education... and the list goes on. Find something that tickles your fancy and come on out for a great getaway.

This list is some of the highlights around Huntsville, north Muskoka, Algonquin Park and the south end of the Almaguin Highlands. Check back often as we'll add events as we hear about them. Got an event going on? Let us know so we can add it, too.

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Canada Day Celebrations
Join the party in River Mill Park and celebrate Canada.
July 1

Muskoka Heritage Place Strawberry Social
Canada Day festivities include free admission to the Muskoka Museum and regular Pioneer Village and Train admission. Includes strawberry scones, Canada flags and stickers, while supplies last. Costumed narrators, historical demonstrations, strolling minstrels and the Portage Flyer steam train chugs down the track. Visit Muskoka Heritage Place for details.
July 1, 10am - 4pm

Reel Paddling Film Festival
Algonquin Outfitters brings this annual event to the Algonquin Theatre, showcasing the world's best paddling films. Be inspired by scenes and stories of rivers, lakes, oceans, and extreme adventure in wild places. Tickets $16. Visit the Algonquin Theatre for details.
July 4, 7pm

Photography Workshop: Flora & Wildflowers
Algonquin Park
Learn about the beautiful wildflowers that carpet Algonquin’s hardwood slopes and how best to capture them in photos. Photographer/teacher Debbie Bradley will demystify camera settings and techniques and a Park naturalist will accompany the group for plant identification and to explain the natural history of the plant species we find along the trail. Enjoy a day of photography capturing the natural beauty of Algonquin Park, including an indoor instructional session and review, and hands-on experiential field excursion for practice. Group size is limited to 15 participants. For pricing and information, see the Friends of Algonquin Park.
July 7, 9am - 3:30pm

Look, See, Paint Workshop - Adults
Algonquin Park
Experience artist Jeff Miller's unique style of instruction and participate in watercolour painting to view Algonquin's spectacular surroundings in a whole new light. During this half-day painting excursion, participants will learn the Look, See, Paint concept while appreciating the natural environment of Algonquin Park. Workshop includes all necessary paint, paper and brushes; instruction from Jeff Miller;  valid Park permit for the day of the workshop. Maximum 15 participants, aged 16 years or older. See the Friends of Algonquin Park for pricing and registration.
July 8, 1:30 - 4:30pm

Creative Changes Art Show & Sale
Annual event showcasing local artists and artisans. Featuring paintings, pottery, woodcarving, jewelry and more. Wine and cheese reception Friday evening for $5. Free admission all day Saturday and Sunday. At the Kearney Community Centre. See the Town of Kearney for details.
July 7, reception begins at 7pm
July 8 & 9, beginning 10am

Nuit Blanche North
Take a walk on the wild side with a night of free interactive art and performances in downtown Huntsville. For one night, artists fill the streets and public spaces of downtown Huntsville with street theatre, music, sculpture, film, and fun exhibits. Come explore, discover, debate, create and participate in this magical event. See Nuit Blanch North for details.
July 14, beginning 8pm

The Limberlost Challenge
Limberlost Reserver, east of Huntsville
This endurance event is a trail runners dream with challenging terrain alongside lakes, through wetland, up and over steep inclines, and through the occasional creek or mud hole. Includes a well marked course, post-race meal, chip timing and points-qualifying distances. Four race distances to choose from: 14k, 28k, 42k, and 56k. Wow, that's an endurance race! See The Limberlost Challenge for details.
July 14th, first race starts at 8am

Cooking with Jeff
Great food plus informative and memorable entertaining and dining ideas are on the menu as celebrity chef Jeff Suddaby of 3 Guys and a Stove grills, tosses and sears up four delicious foods in the al fresco kitchen at Sandhill Nursery. Come out to Sandhill Nursery, west of Huntsville, and watch, learn, enjoy the food and sip a little wine. Tickets are $40. For menu and details, visit Huntsville Festival of the Arts.
July 15, 12 noon - 4pm

Firefly Festival
Main Street in Downtown Huntsville will be closed to traffic and shops will move their merchandice out to the streets to show-off their wares and sales. There'll be live entertainment, food and fun until midnight!  For more information visit Downtown Huntsville Adventures BIA.
July 20, beginning at 5pm

Jian Ghomeshi
Award-winning broadcaster, writer, musician, producer host and co-creator of the national daily talk program,“Q,” Jian will share some moments from his show and thoughts on current events and pop culture. Q&A to follow. At Huntsville's Algonquin Theatre. Tickets $33. See Huntsville Festival of the Arts for details.
July 21, 8pm

Muskoka 5150 Triathlon
This competitive sporting event features eight races, including an international distance triathlon. Races begin at the Summit Centre in Huntsville. See Trisport Canada for registration and details.
July 22

Jazz in the Garden
Smooth jazz fills the air, bring your lawn chair and sit amongst the beautiful gardens at Spencer’s Tall Trees Restaurant. Tempt your tastebuds with light snacks and refreshing drinks. Tickets $20. See Huntsville Festival of the Arts for details.
July 22, 1pm - 3pm

en Plein Air
Cheer on renowned local artists and area dignitaries as they create masterpieces on the streets of downtown over the space of four short hours. After watching your favourite work of art being created, you'll have the chance to take it home with you at the live auction at 3pm on the Town Hall steps. Pop in to the Shutterbug Gallery or visit the Huntsville Festival of the Arts for details.
July 26

Monday, June 11

Band on the Run 2012

The racers starting the half marathon. The sky was overcast but the air was muggy and heavy.
Runners, supporters, volunteers and sponsors filled River Mill Park in downtown Huntsville for the first Huntsville Half Marathon - Band on the Run. The event offered three race distances--5k, 10k, and half-marathon (21.0957km in case you're wondering)--and with over 300 racers total, it was a huge success for the first year.

Next, the 10k runners start out. That's Jim wearing #142.
A few canoe-heads and a troop of firefighters begin the 5k run.
Some of the highlights of the 5k run were the "canoe-heads", including our friend Randy Mitson and two of his colleagues from Algonquin Outfitters, portaging (yes, carrying a canoe!) the entire distance and a group of Huntsville firefighters running in their heavy bunker gear.

The 5k finish line. Cheers to the Huntsville Fire Department!
Now that's determination. The firefighters ran the full 5k together in their heavy gear under a blazing sun. It was 32°C by the afternoon and it was hard enough to stay cool in shorts and tees!

Our very own Jim ran the 10k and came in 9th overall out of 108 runners and 2nd for his age group. I'm so proud of him! Next up for Jim: his first try-a-tri and eventually a triathlon.

Overall, the event was a great day filled with music, food and community spirit. The organizers have said they'll do it again next year so we hope to see you here!

Back at home, Jim with his medal and prize. The next day he was walking a little slowly...