things that matter

it’s been a while, as always. I thought I’d give a go at getting back into regular blogginess by having a weekly thing with some structure. as someone who’s paid to produce words for 40-60 hours each week, making more words hardly gets me out of the doldrums, but is a thing I do tend to enjoy when I can do it for me and in my own way and in my own space and time – proper grammar be damned! we’ll see how this goes. structure is good (if a little foreign to me). not gonna lie – I’m also using this as an excuse to procrastinate on a translation project that is due Monday morning…and on doing dishes. blarg.

here are some good things that have happened recently

for Christmas, the lovely man with whom I live and share all of the craziest parts of my life bought me The Wild Unknown tarot deck and book – a set I’d been swooning over forever. I hadn’t had a deck call to me so hard since the Haindl deck that I loved and lost. I’d been working with a Rider-Waite deck (a deck that works, but doesn’t speak to me) for a couple of years until getting this one. the connection with The Wild Unknown is palpable, if not yet fully understood. I’ve been drawing a card each day (ok, not actually each and every day because I’m not disciplined like that, but I aim to be!) in order to get to know it better. I keep drawing this card:

Ace of Wands

which is rather awesomely about new growth and creativity and rather annoyingly about a lot of things I need to kick myself in the arse for and that just skims the surface of my relationship with the tarot, but explaining the rest of the relationship is probably worth a millionty-three tales for a millionty-three other times. I’ll talk more about the book behind the card later.

as the result of searching out what others are taking away from this amazing deck, I came across We Will Tell You All Of Our Secrets, the blog of a maker and knitter (anyone who knows me knows in how much reverence and crushiness I hold you people who make garments out of bits of string – GARMENTS OUT OF BITS OF STRING!!! you’re all amazing) and adventurer extraordinaire.  I read the whole thing. seriously.

Stephen Fry got hitched and that is so, so cool. I cannot tell you in how many ways the dude is an idol of mine, but I can begin by saying that him getting hitched warms the cockles of my heart. he’s someone who has suffered some pretty intense mental health issues and has been open about it and one of the most humble advocates for good care in the face of that. he has found love in the face of that…in an age gap relationship (those millennial men! I don’t mean to fetishize or generalize a generation, but I cannot blame him one bit!) that, of course, has come under fire in the media – another thing he has faced with all of the grace anyone could hope to have. I want to be him when I grow up.

and all of that reminds me that this image came across my social media feeds:

#breakingdownthebinaries

A post shared by Steve Grand (@stevegrandmusic) on

it makes me stupendously happy. down with binaries! up with intersectionality and the amazing, complicated world of humanity, dammit!

here are some gross/enraging things that have happened recently

this also came up in my feeds:

it really hits close to home as the niece of a quadriplegic. I haven’t had to deal with this stuff personally in a number of years, but I did for over 20 years and…well…I don’t even know where to begin with this. accessibility is difficult enough for so many. that the very people meant to ensure their rights to mobility are respected, in this world that denies them at every turn, would abuse their privilege in order to negate that? I cried when I saw this. we can do better.

a couple of things I learned

today, I learned how to make a frittata that I actually liked. I have a weird relationship with eggs – I love quiche and hate scrambled. I came to rekindle a liking for omelettes a few years ago after making them for everyone else and wanting nothing more to do with them. I can’t deal with eggs at all when I’m menstrual. I’m now in a position of catering to the daughter’s gluten-free lifestyle and so have been looking for ways to make breakfasts (and other meals) that accommodate that. I followed Alton Brown’s method, if not the recipe itself, and amped up the other-ingredient-to-eggs ratio, by, like, 1,000,000:1. it contains bacon, spinach, parsley, peppers, onions, cheese, chili flakes, and nutmeg and it looked like this:

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it’s delicious and will happily feed a meal to six giant humans (because that’s all we have in this house). also, cast iron skillets are the shit. I will do this again. oh yes, I will.

I also learned that putting away half of eleventy-6 settings of plates leads to fewer dishes to wash. lover-man and I came into co-habitation with a lot of plates and very little will to deal with them. putting half of them away has made a metric pantload of difference in facing housework. I’m sure this is a no-brainer to many, but…well…for a couple of home-centric people, we’re not very housekeeping-centric. we talked about it for months before it happened. it did happen, so yay us!

what I’m chewing on

I just finished reading The Secret History of Wonder Woman. it’s as enraging as it is fascinating as it demonstrates just how few strides we’ve made toward equality in ONE HUNDRED YEARS. women are still paid less, still fighting for reproductive freedom, still trapped by the notion of maternal instinct, still not having our legitimate, tangible skills outside of “nurturing nature” taken seriously. I do despair. I do recommend the book, though. it’s really, really good for an anger-inducing read (and I’m a firm believer in righteous anger).

this was fun. and cathartic. writing according to my rules is good. I’ll try again next week.

peace,

m

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recipe: mushroom & black bean chili

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A’ight. I’m trying to deal with the backlog of recipe requests, but I really had to share this one because it will definitely be a go-to when I’m craving warmth + bright flavours through the dark seasons.

This recipe is adapted from/inspired by this recipe that I did not follow. I amped up the veg content and (I feel) made it prettier with the addition of corn, peppers and cilantro. It’s also entirely vegan (unless you use the cheese that I did). It also goes together in under an hour (unless you’re making your own polenta, like I did) and will give you about 8 lumberjack sized servings for under 15 quid.

You need:

  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped/crushed
  • 1 tbsp cumin (can be whole or ground)
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2  cup of portabello mushrooms, large diced
  • 1 tbsp oregano or thyme (or a combination thereof)
  • 1  can (or about 2 cups) of diced or stewed tomatoes (crushed tomatoes are not recommended)
  • 3 tbsp chipotles and adobo (I tossed chipotles in whole and that was not appreciated – you may want to chop yours up)
  • 1 bottle of PBR
  • 1 can (or about 1 cup) of corn
  • 2 red bell peppers, large diced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • grated sharp cheddar cheese (optional, but worth it)

 

You do:

  1. heat oil over medium heat  in a large, heavy saucepan.
  2. add the onion, garlic, salt and spices and cook until the onions are translucent, stirring on the regular.
  3. stir in the mushrooms and cook for about two minutes.
  4. stir in the tomatoes, peppers, beer, herbs and chipotles and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. turn the heat up to medium-high, stir in the beans and corn and cook for another 10 minutes.
  6. stir in the cilantro.
  7. serve over polenta with a good helping of cheese and ground black pepper on top.

 


The Kitty From The Enchanted Puggle Forest

Once upon a time, there was a wee little kitty born into a wee little enchanted forest near a wee little creek that turned into a rather large river in a rather large province, in a rather large country in a rather large world.

For the purpose of this tale, I beg you to keep in mind that all of the wee-ness and all of the largeness is from the perspective of a kitty, so if you’re an elephant or a blue whale reading this, it may be difficult for you to imagine how wee and large things might be, but try to use your imagination. Maybe imagine yourself to be the size of a toaster, or, say, three cantaloupes conjoined. That should do it. We coo’? Ok. Moving right along, then…

For a long time (approximately 5 weeks), the wee little kitty was quite happy in the wee little enchanted forest. He (the kitty wasn’t aware of the fact that he was, in fact, a he as the thought never really occurred to him, but he was and he balks that now, but that’s another tale for another time) became a rather skilled Builder of Forts, a mighty Hunter of Leaves, a ferocious Nipper of Winds That Touch Bottoms, and voracious Licker of Flavours.

One day, the wee little kitty was trekking alongside the wee little creek after having created a rather handsome wee little fort of leaves he had mightily hunted and began to wonder where the creek ended and if there was another, rather large enchanted forest beyond where others had their bottoms touched by different winds and had flavours he had not yet voraciously licked.

As such, he started to follow the winding way of the wee little creek so far that he could SEE that it became bigger and imagined all of the beyond – the leaves that had not yet been mightily hunted, the bottom-touching winds not yet ferociously nipped, and the flavours not yet voraciously licked, and the forts that could be built! Oh the forts! – but just as he reached that view, a brazillion enchanted puggle forest fairies blocked his path and hollered nonsense like “hark! hark!” and “who goes there?” and “thou shalt not pass!” and “goddamned pinko scum!”

Enchanted puggle forest fairies don’t even believe in God or communism, so that particular fairy was just being gratuitously inflammatory.

The wee little kitty was confused, but still determined.

He tried to bargain with the enchanted puggle forest fairies:

“I’ll make you a rather handsome fort if you let me pass” he said, but was met with “pfft…” and “does this guy think we’re homeless? we’re fucking enchanted puggle forest fairies and we don’t need your charity” and “goddamnned pinko scum!” and then the brazillion enchanted puggle forest fairies went at the wee little kitty and bopped him in the nose allatonce. It was a bopping so fierce that it made his eyes pop out.

“ow!”, said the wee little kitty. “you lot are the meanest meaners that ever did mean! Can’t you just hug it out or lick some flavours? Do you need an intervention?” and the enchanted puggle forest fairies yelled things like “teufel drek!” and “hell naw he didn’t!” and “we don’t have a problem and we don’t need your help!” and “goddamned pinko scum!” but they seemed a little less sure of themselves after his suggestion…so the wee little kitty made a run for it!
It didn’t take long before the enchanted puggle forest fairies were on him again. This time, they went for his ears. Imagine a brazillion enchanted puggle forest fairies yanking and pulling at your ears!

Look, I know I’m asking you to imagine a lot, you guys, but imagination is not only the key to empathy, but also the key to understanding this strange and twisted tale, so stay with me, ok? We’re all learning and growing here.
The wee little kitty yanked and pulled with all his might, fueled by the hope of a taste of new bottom-touching winds to nip at, but the brazillion fairies were too much and he relented, though not before his ears fell right against his face. He tried to snap one back into its previous upright position, and then the other, but it was no use. His ears would never be the same again. He touched a paw to each ear and lamented:

“you fairies are selfish, narcissistic jerks!” the wee little kitty proclaimed. “y’all haven’t an ounce of self-awareness that can be collected between your small, glittery, hamster poop-sized brains. I don’t think you even know why you won’t let me go!”

”Narcissistic! Well I never!” one yelled, and “you can’t go because we said so!” yelled another, and yet another yelled “goddamned pinko scum!” and they were so insulted that they fell on the wee little kitty again, this time pulling on his tail so’s to drag him further back into the enchanted puggle forest and learn him good to stay there for good.

But this time, it didn’t work.

The brazillion enchanted puggle forest fairies pulled hard and long, but the wee little kitty dug his wee little kitty claws into the ground so hard and held on so hard, by virtue of his own strength of conviction and then, amazing things happened (extra imagination now, please):

The fairies pulled and pulled and the kitty resisted so hard that his nose popped in toward his face. He didn’t dare lift a paw from its foothold (pardon the pun) so’s to check his nose. His nose would never be the same and he lamented a moment, then dug in further, and became cool with the new nose.

Then the fairies pulled harder and harder, so hard that his wee little kitty tail made a sound kinda like “sproing!” but also “pop!” with a top note of “guffaw” (there was nothing in the wee little kitty’s body that didn’t have a sense of humour) and, with that, the brazillion enchanted puggle forest fairies went flying.
Even though the fairies could fly of their own volition, all brazillion of them were flung to the edges of the wee little enchanted puggle forest for long enough to allow the wee little kitty to take a breath.

And when the wee little kitty took that breath, more amazing things happened:
His newly bulgy eyes opened wide and saw leaves to hunt beyond the creek with which to build new forts!

His newly floppy ears not only heard, but felt new winds touching bottoms he did not yet know!

His newly upturned nose smelled new flavours to voraciously lick.
The wee little kitty took a second and a third and a forth deep breath and, before he knew it, his new body had become a sort of toaster- (or conjoined cantaloupe-) sized zeppelin, with his ears as sails, his nose taking fuel from the (still nip-worthy) winds and his sproingy tail as a propeller.

The wee little kitty flew and flew and saw that the wee little enchanted puggle forest was connected to other wee little things that grew into things that were rather large and his senses tingled and, even though he was rather amazed by all of it, he became overwhelmed and decided to settle down under the branches of a Manitoba maple tree that look almost as handsome as the forts he was so good at making but couldn’t be arsed to make at that particular time because…well…fairies and transformation are exhausting for everyone, even wee little kitties from enchanted puggle forests.

So, the wee little kitty had a wee little nap in his rather large new fort and then went out into the new wide world again.

In the new wide world, he quickly found that there were new wide things, like forts on wheels, and big, wide hard spaces that allowed so many vexatious winds to touch his bottom, and leaves to hunt mightily and then…MASSSIVE forts that had MASSIVE, wingless fairies cozying up in them…and then an especially MASSIVE wingless fairy came out.

The kitty was scared. He wasn’t ready to go back to the enchanted puggle forest yet. He wasn’t sure he ever would be. And then a wind touched his bottom and he nipped at it ferociously and the MASSIVE, wingless fairy…made a noise. And the noise wasn’t angry. The MASSIVE wingless fairy didn’t say “pfft…” or “we don’t need you!” or “goddamned pinko scum!”

Instead, the MASSIVE, wingless fairy giggled at the wee little kitty’s nips at bottom-touching winds and mighty hunting of leaves and reached its hand out and let the wee little kitty discover a new flavour to voraciously lick, and, when the wee little kitty was ready, gave him a great big hug-out that no be-wingèd fairy could imagine (because they’re narcissistic jerks who lack imagination) and the wee little kitty sighed and didn’t feel like flying anymore and the MASSIVE, wingless fairy giggled again and brought the wee little kitty into its MASSIVE fort and he learned about building new forts out of knee-pits and pillows and discovered the bottom-touching winds of convection ovens filled with the flavour of chicken livers made just for him and what goddamned pinko scum meant because the MASSIVE, wingless fairy was one…

BUT…

The wee little kitty still had a schmooshy nose, floppy ears, bulgy eyes and a silly tail, like this:

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just look

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pumpkin pancakes

and here we go…

 

pumpkin


BIG roasted tomato sauce

This makes about 3 liters of sauce, so prepare to store or feed accordingly.

You need:

  • approximately 100 fresh roma tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2tbsp. pepper
  • 4 whole garlic bulbs  with their tops chopped off
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 1 tbsp. nutmeg
  • 1/3 c. dried oregano
  • 2 large roasting pans.

not-so-Pro Tip: I have a 17″ roaster with a lid and I use both the pan and the lid for roasting all manner of things (including this recipe) when I need that kind of dual duty, like so:

tomatoes in pans

it’s a kitchen essential in my world because it performs so well, has a gazillion uses and only costs about $30 at Canadian Tire.

You do:

  1. preheat your oven to 275.
  2. wash and halve the tomatoes.
  3. divide the halved tomatoes evenly between your roasting pans.
  4. sprinkle the salt, pepper, diced onion, oregano and nutmeg evenly between both pans.
  5. place two garlic bulbs in each pan.
  6. drizzle the oil evenly between both pans.
  7. toss to coat everything in the oily, herby, alliumy, spicy loveliness.
  8. make sure your garlic bulbs are right side up.
  9. put them in the oven.
  10. after 2 hours, turn the heat up to 400 and cook for another 20 minutes.
  11. toss everything into one pan.
  12. squish the squishy roasted garlics out of their bulbs and into the sauce.
  13. grind it all together with an immersion blender.
  14. serve over rigatoni with chili flakes and a metric pantload of asiago cheese, like so:

rigatoni

not-so-Pro Tip: I’m really serious about serving this with rigatoni for the first time as this pasta is built for delivering this sauce cradled gently in its grooves. try it. you’ll like it.

 

 


all about how I’m a prejudiced asshole

So, there’s a laser/botox/spot where people go to avoid the aging process joint across the road from my home. Yesterday, a woman pulled up who seemingly, to my judgey, asshole brain, could have been the poster child for such a joint: middle-aged, driving a high-end SUV, wearing a denim mini skirt, nicely coiffed hair and a jacket long enough to disguise the mid-section bulge that many of us end up with after having birthed little people and/or really enjoy beer and the air of someone who did not seem terribly comfortable with her aging self (it’s a Thing, I promise. I might have to get into that in another post).

This woman started walking in the direction of the anti-aging place, but then walked right past it! She walked right past it and deaked into the alley beside it and took part in a shifty, amateur transaction that I am pretty sure involved drugs because that shit happens there all the time.

My mind has been opened.