Poem of the Week: Oh, The Water by Dorianne Laux via Poetry Mistress Alison

You are the hero of this poem,
the one who leans into the night
and shoulders the stars, smoking
a cigarette you’ve sworn is your last
before reeling the children into bed.

Or you’re the last worker on the line,
lifting labeled crates onto the dock,
brown arms bare to the elbow,
your shirt smelling of seaweed and soap.

You’re the oldest daughter
of an exhausted mother, an inconsolable
father, sister to the stones thrown down
on your path. You’re the brother
who warms his own brother’s bottle,
whose arm falls asleep along the rail of his crib.

We’ve stood next to you in the checkout line,
watched you flip through tabloids or stare
at the TV Guide as if it were the moon,
your cart full of cereal, toothpaste, shampoo,
day-old bread, bags of gassed fruit,
frozen pizzas on sale for 2.99.

In the car you might slide in a tape, listen
to Van Morrison sing Oh, the water.
You stop at the light and hum along, alone.

When you slam the trunk in the driveway,
spilling the groceries, dropping your keys,
you’re someone’s love, their one brave hope;
and if they don’t run to greet you or help
with the load, they can hear you,
they know you’ve come home.

​For more information on Dorianne Laux, please ​check out her website.
All these poems come via Alison McGhee who lovingly curates them,
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Random Musing: Bike to Work (hell)

My bike to work week started a good month after the official start which is the end of May early June. I took my time this year because there are a lot of mental preparation that goes into even getting my bike out of the bike locker.

First, I have to get down to the bike locker and then somehow I have to get myself to go in. Even though I pass the bike locker every single day, actually getting in there is a little like climbing Everest itself.

Once I wrap my mind around this I have to start considering the key to the bike lock. Where is it? Bike lock keys belong to the world of tiny keys that unlock mysteries in tiny places everywhere. And let’s face it, all keys look alike.

Then I have to remember where I put my panniers. By now I’m already feeling like I’m doing a gigantic 5 kilometer ride up a very steep hill and I haven’t even gotten on my bike yet.

When I finally have the bike, the lock, panniers, helmet which I didn’t have because I drove over it with my car last year, then I’m ready to consider next steps. What am I going to put in those panniers? How do I stuff my work clothes in there and look presentable? Well, that’s easy. I don’t. I’ve accepted that I look like a complete red-faced sweaty woman with wild hair who by some grace of good luck doesn’t stink. At least I’m assuming I don’t.

When I finally get to the biking part I conveniently forget the misery that was last year’s biking season, mainly the complete uphill relentless slog that is Willingdon, Patterson or anything that takes you to “Metrotown”.

Last year I cried. Real tears not fake ones. Why oh why oh why am I doing this I kept thinking to myself? So I’m not sure what made me think this year would be any different.

It’s true, last year’s biking got me ready and able to do the Juan de Fuca Trail fairly effortlessly. I lost my winter fat, I felt fit. Also, I like not driving my car because traffic is crazy and it fills me with rage and it feels good to pass people sitting in their cars when I’m flying down the big hill I have to come up in the mornings.

So having gone through the herculean effort of getting me and my bike ready for the ride, I finally did it this week – twice. The first time was evil. I foolishly believed that my winter (and spring) of doing nothing would prepare me but it didn’t. I also thought that maybe I was still fit from last year. That also turned out not to be true.

So it was hard. And today’s was even harder because I was still exhausted from two days before. But I’m proud to say there were no tears. Was there grimacing? Yes. Was there drool running down my chin? Yes. I’m hoping that the drooling will end by the end of next week when I’ll have three more rides under my belt. Wish me luck.

 

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Lemon Drop (martini, of course)

The Lemon Drop Martini is a thing of beauty. Perfect for breezy summer evenings, a drink on the dock, or backyard BBQ, it’s great anytime, anywhere as long as someone else makes it for you! That’s the key. It needs to be delivered on a tray in an icy, frosted glass.

In an attempt to cheer myself up this last weekend, I cooked like crazy and Dave made Lemon Drops, (several I might add and which turned to Lime Drops when we eventually ran out of lemons). It was nothing less than a perfect collaboration. And guess what? I climbed out of my downward spiral of OH MY GOD the world is going to hell and other self-inflicted sadnesses that seemed determined to take me down. unnamed.jpg

Here’s how to make these lovely little gems.

For one Single Lemon Drop
Ingredients:
11/2ounces vodka
1/2 ounce triple sec
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
3/4 ounce fresh lemon (or lime) juice
4 to 5 ice cubes
lemon twist

Chill martini glass in freezer for ten minutes. Pour vodka, triple sec, sugar and lemon into martini shaker with ice cubes. Use lemon to rim the glass and dunk in sugar. Shake martini shaker, pour, drink, enjoy and repeat!
Cheers!

While Dave made these I prepared an appetizer of avocado, prawns and aioli with a twist of lemon, followed by fresh tomato bisque soup finished with whipped cream, and then the final course, pasta with fresh pesto. The next night I made paella. I’m happy to say that all this food and drink celebration beat back the sads and I had a fantastic weekend enjoying something of a culinary and liquid renaissance!

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Italian Grandma Pesto

101 Cookbooks is my new favourite vegetarian cooking website. I love the context and details provided for each recipe. There  isn’t so much that it’s too much to read but there’s exactly enough to give you everything you need to understand the “why” of cooking something a certain way.

I’m not a lover of commercial pesto and rarely eat it but this pesto is simple and fabulous. The trick is to hand chop everything. You can get the full explanation of why it is so much better here but my own feeling is that the unevenness of hand-chopping makes each bite a little different.

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Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of basil, leaves only, washed and dried
  • 3 medium cloves of garlic
  • one small handful of raw pine nuts
  • roughly 3/4 cup Parmesan, loosely packed and freshly grated
  • A few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
INSTRUCTIONS
Chop Ingredients
The official chopping protocol from 101 Cookbooks is below. As I’m incapable of being able to follow any recipe to the letter, we simply chopped the large bunch of basil, the handful of nuts, and garlic and then slowly added in the parmesan and then made sure it was properly mixed. The 101 Cooks method leaves you with something of a pesto cake (yum!). We prepared some elbow pasta, mixed in the pesto added salt and pepper and presto Pesto!
It was delicious.
  1. Chop the garlic along with about 1/3 of the basil leaves. Once this is loosely chopped add more basil, chop some more, add the rest of the basil, chop some more. At this point the basil and garlic should be a very fine mince. Add about half the pine nuts, chop. Add the rest of the pine nuts, chop. Add half of the Parmesan, chop. Add the rest of the Parmesan, and chop. In the end you want a chop so fine that you can press all the ingredients into a basil “cake” – see the photo up above. Transfer the pesto “cake” to a small bowl (not much bigger than the cake).

Form a Paste
  1. Cover the pesto “cake” with a bit of olive oil. It doesn’t take much, just a few tablespoons. At this point, you can set the pesto aside, or place it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Just before serving, give the pesto a quick stir to incorporate some of the oil into the basil. Francesca’s mom occasionally thins the pesto with a splash of pasta water for more coverage, but for our gnocchi this wasn’t necessary.

 

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A Sad Day – The World Says Goodbye to Anthony Bourdain

Way, way, way back I had the pleasure of meeting Anthony Bourdain in Vancouver for the launch of Kitchen Confidential when I still worked at Raincoast Books. He was down-to-earth, funny, raw and unpretentious.  It was obvious that he loved what he was doing and that he knew he was lucky to be living his dream.

Like everyone else, I was so, so sad to hear that he had taken his life this week.

A friend on Facebook shared this podcast that was done when he was on tour in 2006 for his next book Nasty Bits. It’s a three part series that was created over the course of a book tour in Vancouver and captures him in different moments. In all those moments, he   never radiates the “rock star” arrogance that comes so often with fame. He was a mensch, a very real human being.

Thanks to Monique for sharing and Robert Ouimet for producing.

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A little taste of what is in the podcast:

“On June 12, 2006, Anthony Bourdain, the best selling author of Kitchen Confidentialand host of the TV show No Reservations, spent a day in Vancouver doing media interviews and bookstore appearances to talk about his new book The Nasty Bits.

He wore a lapel microphone during the entire day, allowing me to record Bourdain’s casual conversation with fans, private moments in the car, and regular interview style questions.”

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Have a listen to a man who showed us the world and all of its amazing offerings.

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Trinity’s Kitchen Thai Coconut Curry with Kaffir Lime Leaves and Butternut Squash

I was dreaming of kaffir lime leaves the other day and then lo and behold there they were right in front of me at the super market. It was a signal. I came  home and went recipe hunting. As you can tell from the number of curry recipes in my recipe index curry is one of my number one favourite foods right behind French Fries!

This recipe is Thai inspired and has chickpeas, roasted butternut squash and spinach. The kaffir leaves give it a fresh Thai flavour and the bonus is that it’s super easy to make. I found this recipe on trinitykitchen.com. Give it a visit as she has come great recipes on it.

Here it is in all its glory!

 Ingredients
1 large butternut squash (1kg or 2lbs approx)
350ml (1½ cups) water
10 kaffir lime leaves
7 cardamom pods
1 heaped teaspoon grated ginger
4 large garlic cloves
1 teaspoon celtic sea salt
2 heaped teaspoons ground coriander
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
250ml (1 cup) passata (called sieved tomatoes in the US)
200g (1 cup) cooked chickpeas
100g (3½ oz) creamed coconut (see notes)
40g spinach ( a large handful)
Small handful of fresh basil leaves

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Instructions
Bake the squash
Peel, de-seed and dice the butternut squash into chunks of about 1.5cm (or ½ an inch) cubed. Larger chunks are fine, although you’ll need to add extra baking time.
Place the squash onto a baking tray and pop into an oven heated to gas mark 7 (425F/220C).
Bake until you can pierce a fork through the chunks. This make take 30 – 45 minutes.
Whilst the squash is baking make the rest of the curry.
Place the kaffir lime leaves and 350ml of water into a medium sized pan and bring to the boil. (Note: Count the kaffir lime leaves as you put them in and remember how many you used, because you will have to remove them at the end of the cooking period. They are meant for flavour, rather than eating).
Take the seeds out of the cardamom pods and crush with a pestle and mortar (or alternatively chop repeatedly over and over with a sharp heavy knife until they look ground). Toss them into the pan.
Peel and grate a heaped teaspoon worth of fresh ginger. Toss it into the pan.
Peel and crush 4 large garlic cloves and add to the pan.
Add the sea salt, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, passata, creamed coconut and chickpeas to the pan, stir together and allow all of the flavours to infuse. Let this simmer on the lowest heat for about 20 minutes and turn off the heat.
(Don’t add the spinach leaves right until the end – AFTER you remove the kaffir lime leaves.)
Once the squash has baked, take the kaffir lime leaves out of your other pan. When you are happy that all of the lime leave are out, then roughly chop the spinach and mix in the curry pan along with the roasted squash.
Add a little extra water if the sauce is too thick.
Use the basil to garnish.
Serve with rice, quinoa or millet or on it’s own as a stew.
Enjoy

Thanks Trinity for this awesome recipe.

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Poem of the Week: To My Daughter on Her Twenty-First Birthday, by Ellen Bass

When they laid you in the crook
of my arms like a bouquet and I looked
into your eyes, dark bits of evening sky,
I thought, of course this is you,
like a person who has never seen the sea
can recognize it instantly.
They pulled you from me like a cork
and all the love flowed out. I adored you
with the squandering passion of spring
that shoots green from every pore.
You dug me out like a well. You lit
the deadwood of my heart. You pinned me
to the earth with the points of stars.
I was sure that kind of love would be
enough. I thought I was your mother.
How could I have known that over and over
you would crack the sky like lightning,
illuminating all my fears, my weaknesses, my sins.
Massive the burden this flesh
must learn to bear, like mules of love.

For more information about Ellen Bass, please click here.
A big thanks to Alison for curating these gems and sharing them with the world.

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