The best cooler hacks for a picnic at the beach

Ad. This post is sponsored by Coleman Canada and Canadian Tire.

We’re logging quite a few beach days this summer, as our three children are the ideal age for this outing.

Now that everyone knows how to swim, the beach is actually relaxing, and that is a welcome change after a decade of rescuing kids from the surf. After applying sunscreen to three little people, my main job is feeding them all and that takes some organization – and the right gear.

This summer I’m partnering with Coleman Canada and Canadian Tire to encourage families to get outside. So far I’ve shared backyard cookout tips, steps for a clean camp kitchen, and now I’m dishing my best hacks for packing a cooler. On blistering hot July days, it takes some strategic planing to keep everything cold.

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Sour Cream Panna Cotta with Strawberry Compote

My decision to serve panna cotta at our recent Canada Day party was influenced by a culinary lesson learned in London: the simple goodness of panna cotta should not be discounted in lieu of flashier desserts.

Creamy, light-as-air-panna cotta is scrumptious on its own and even better when served with a seasonal fruit compote. These days I have all the local strawberries I could wish for, both in my backyard garden and at the markets.

Hence a patriotic red and white dessert made the final menu on July 1, but on merits far worthier than colour alone.

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9 culinary lessons learned in London (for the home cook)

One cannot expect to immerse oneself in a foreign food culture for five days straight and not have an epiphany or two afterward.

Not surprisingly, our trip to London in May was almost exclusively about the food. I observed and absorbed everything from their café culture to street market and restaurant trends. I ate and walked and ate again. I stocked up on UK food magazines for the plane ride home to continue my education.

Why? Well, while research and culinary inspiration were strong motivations for my exploration, I was also genuinely curious about what the Brits were still into (scones and clotted cream, Sunday roast), obsessing over (toast, cider), trend watching (whole bowls, ferments) and doing really well (sausage rolls, cake).

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Backyard Cookout Tips + Coleman Get Outside Day

Ad. This post is sponsored by Coleman Canada and Canadian Tire.

All across the country, Canadians are counting down to Canada’s 150th Anniversary of Confederation on Saturday. We’ll celebrate our country from East coast to West coast to the Arctic coast, each in our unique ways.

I’m guessing that most of us will be outdoors, because getting out into nature is what Canadians do best. In case you are entertaining friends or family on July 1 (or 4th, for my US readers), I’ve put together some of my best tips for a backyard cookout and I’m sharing them over at GetOutsideCanada.com.

Once again, Coleman Canada, in partnership with Canadian Tire, is championing a national Get Outside Day, encouraging Canadians to step out into the sunshine.

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June camping and a Spring Green Campfire Frittata

The first camping trip of the year was somewhat of a revelation: my kids have finally grown up enough to stay out of trouble while we’re out in the woods.

At ages 5, 9 and 11 they are tearing around the trails, making new friends, climbing stuff, inventing games and working up a ferocious appetite. After a decade of keeping them from falling in the fire or falling off a cliff, I can actually relax and putter around camp – a complete novelty.

Cooking outdoors is how I hygge in summer. I love it all. The camp kitchen set up. The campfire foil dinners. Cooking an early breakfast on the camp stove. Yes, even washing the dishes. It’s a good thing I enjoy the food prep aspect of camping because every few hours my crew was famished.

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