I lost my motivation. It happens to the best of us, but when it happens to me, it means crap food, junk food and totally uninspired dishes…and even less baking. Not even Pinterest could wake me up. I’d say it was due to busy schedules and work, but it wasn’t. I lost motivation. I stopped breathing and actually living…I was existing and doing things because I had to, not because I wanted to.

I didn’t even realize I lost it until a friend commented and it hit me. Hard. Took me a few days to muster the courage to come back and tell you about it. But hey, I’m here and I wanted to tell you what I did to get it back…or what my family did to help me get it back.

Back in May, Mother’s Day, my family gave me money to go the Fairmont’s Jasper Park Lodge’s Christmas in November. A three-night all-inclusive food, wine and Christmas decor extravaganza. For $1000 dollars, I would meet celebrity chef’s Anna and Micheal Olson and Chuck Hughes (huge crush on him). Not only would I meet them, I would learn tips, tricks and fabulous recipes from them, dine with them and run into all weekend at the lodge. A true foodies dream, and also an event that has been on my bucketlist for years.

After months of waiting…I finally arrived at the front door of the JPL, greeted by the weekend host, Nik Manojlovich, host of Savoir Faire and Weekend at the Cottage. He quickly asked our names, offered us a hot beverage and fresh baked snack and escorted us to the check-in desk, picked up our name tags/guest passes and our bag of arrival goodies – which was already heavy! We arrived in our cabin room with two bottles of champagne, specially marked toques, aprons and a special welcome note. Already a great start to a weekend.

Over the next couple of days, we spent a bulk of our time eating delicious food from Chuck Hughes, Anna Olson, Connie Desousa and the Fairmont. Everything from braised short ribs, goat cheese cheesecake, made-to-order creme brulee, to poutine stations, and seafood buffets. The food was plentiful and the drinks…well, my wine glass was never empty, and my water glass never full. All in all a fabulous experience.

So what happened that weekend…I got my mojo back. I was inspired. From Chuck’s stories, and Anna’s delicious sausage stuffing squares to Connie De Souza and John Jackson’s empanadas, tacos, and shrimp ceviche, the bright flavour, warm and comforting stories helped me find my way back to the kitchen! I left the weekend ready to tackle my fridge and oven. I was armed with FIVE new cookbooks, over 20 new recipes, tips and tools to kick my cooking game into gear, and win (a quick nod to Anna and Micheal Olson’s cooking demonstration.)

So what did I make first? Well, we ate a LOT of great food, but the food that I was craving more of was CharCut‘s My Mexico Al Pastor Tacos…OMG. Our family likes tacos, the girls will eat as many as they can…but these blew us away! The technique, the flavours…everything was AMAZING!


CharCut’s My Mexico Al Pastor Tacos from Christmas in November

1/4 pineapple
1/4 onion
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 garlic clove
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp pineapple juice
2 tsp salt
pinch dried oregano
pinch ground cumin
1/2 small chipotle chili
1/4 tsp adobo sauce
350 g pork loin
230 g ground sausage- raw
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro
Corn tortillas

  1. Slice pork into thin medallions.
  2. Marinade pork medallions in spices and juice, about 15 minutes.
  3. Using a loaf pan, stand up on pork medallion, with the fat cap on the top, on one end of the loaf pan. Next, take a small portion of the sausage and spread it on the pork medallion. Continue layering until no pork and sausage are left. Place a piece of pineapple to keep it all smooshed together.IMG_2592
  4. Back in 350F oven for about 40 minutes, or until meat thermometer reaches 165F when pushed into the middle of the loaf.
  5. To serve, carve against the grain, top on tortillas with a slice of pineapple, hot sauce and whatever toppings you want.

So useful tips shared by John Jackson, the fat cap on the top will act as self-basting allowing the meat to stay moist and flavourful. YUM. This recipe would be great for a family, with LOTs of leftovers or a crowd – TACO BAR!

Up next…Anna’s sausage stuffing squares, empanadas…way too many choices. Or maybe a lesson learned from Anna Olson herself…which helped me make the BEST cinnamon buns. Stay tuned.

And if your asking, yes, I will be attending Christmas in November next year.




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