summer in alberta: lake specials & the vermilion fair

From what I hear summer got off to a bit of rocky start here, but it's been pretty fantastic since I got home (I know, there have been quite a few storms, but I love storms).

I love Alberta summers - the hot days and long nights, spending time outside soaking up the sun and all the great activities that go on.  I think we've probably all got our own "summer essentials", some of mine are spending time out at the lake and hanging out with Trev's family at the Vermilion fair.

A few weeks ago I headed out to the lake for some rest & relaxation.  We had campfire both nights and I was introduced to "Lake Specials" - no one could believe that I had never had one at the lake before.  Yup, in the last 10 years that I've been hanging out at the lake I've never had the treat that Trev still fondly remembers from his childhood.  Before I could try one I had to be educated on the intricacies of the peanut butter-chocolate chip relationship and the balance of filling-to-sandwich press-ratio.  There's a long-standing debate between Trev's mom and a close family friend about which is better: smooth peanut butter or chunky peanut butter... as you can see, this is serious business.

I haven't received official approval for this, but I'm going to share the recipe... (actually, you can probably already guess what's inside).  I was told that it's key to use white bread - brown bread just isn't the same.  Spread both sides of the bread with peanut butter (smooth or chunky, whichever side of the debate you fall on), sprinkle mini-marshmallows on one side, followed by semi-sweet chocolate chips, then either milk chocolate chips or butterscotch chips (that's another debate).  Make sure your cast iron sandwich maker is clean and your camp fire is nice and hot with lots of glowing coals.  Spray both sides of the sandwich maker really well with cooking spray, otherwise the sandwich will stick.  Press your sandwich in, then stick it into the fire.  It doesn't take too long to get nice and golden brown - maybe a few minutes on each side.  Having a paper plate nearby is handy - those sandwiches come out molten hot.  You might want to let it cool for just a minute (if you can resist) before biting into the ooey-gooey-chocolatey-peanuty-goodness...yum...

The other thing that makes it really feel like summer for me is a day at the Vermilion fair.  We don't make it there every summer, but pretty close.  It's always a fun day filled with family, lots of food and rural Alberta charm.

One of the things I always look forward to is the barn filled with adoptable kittens, puppies and bunnies.  They're all do darn cute!  It's hilarious to watch little kids chasing after kittens and bunnies then scooping them up by the armful.  No - I didn't come home with a kitten - Angus would have disapproved, he likes being the only spoiled cat in the house.

We also spent some time in the grandstands watching the chariot races, then the chuck wagon races later on.  I enjoyed a bag of cotton candy during the races - I shared...a little...

Last but not least is the midway.  I couldn't leave without taking Trev's Grandma for a spin on the Tilt-A-Whirl!  Actually a big storm blew through Vermilion right around dinner time, so when we went back to the fair grounds to see the chuck wagons and go on some rides it was veeeerrrry muddy.  My feet were pretty cold and wet, so I didn't stick around for the fireworks (which are always awesome), but mother nature did put on a pretty good show with a gorgeous glowing sunset.  Sigh, gotta love those Alberta sunsets.