Author Archives: Thelma

Smacking vegetables

Today’s culinary revelation is smacking vegetables, which is not a description of how delicious they are but rather how you give them a good bash before cutting them. This is to ensure that any dressing clings to the uneven surface created by said bashing rather than sliding off neatly sliced chunks. Meera Sodha led me to this epiphany via this vegan recipe for sesame noodles with smacked courgette, and this video dramatically illustrates the Chinese cucumber smack she references. Smashing!

Vegan Creole Rice

I subscribe to The Guardian because I deeply value their news reporting, but I also really love so many of their food writers and recipes!

This vegan Creole rice by Meera Sodha is delicious and pretty easy. I’ve made it a few times and it is so reliable. Last night we had it with some Mighty Mushroom Bites (oh, the plastic packaging, but so good and vegan!). Tonight I’ll take the leftovers in another directions and serve them with some of Ranald MacFarland’s sausages.

Recipe hack: use bottled roasted peppers if you can’t be bothered to char your own. If you don’t have the jasmine rice they prescribe, buy a little and try it. And now that you have jasmine rice, try a Kylie Kwong fried rice recipe.

Grease is the word

Changed the seats and spring in my mother’s Delta kitchen faucet today, thanks to this clear video from YouTube user funbro1 aka How To Bob.

Removing the handles took much longer than actually replacing the seats and springs as they were corroded on and prying them off came too close to mangling them for my liking. Bob put silicone grease on some of the parts during reassembly to help the handles turn more easily, which I had never thought of doing. I didn’t have any silicone grease, but do have a 20-lifetimes supply of food-grade bearing grease purchased a couple of years ago to repair an old hand mixer. I dabbed some on the set screws, nuts and handles to make it all easier to take apart for future repairs.

A little robin told me to breathe

I speak robin now. I’ve heard them singing outside my window my whole life. They wake me up and they lull me to sleep. It’s only this spring that I have finally been able to understand what they are saying. 

The dawn chorus is easy. They are calling out to find a mate, to show they own a patch of forest or meadow. I am here, where are you? I’m the best, bet you are, too!

Right now the robins who nested in the red pine tree in our yard are busy all day finding food for their newborn floppy-necked babies. They still find the energy to sing morning and night. This is who you are, you are a robin. Every ounce of me honours every ounce of you.

In this time when we are thinking and talking about breathing and not breathing – don’t get sick, don’t make others sick, I can’t breathe – I stop breathing, and then I hear my life-long friend the robin:

Look up, this is all there is. Now, this is all there is. See, it’s gone, but you can catch the next now. Now.

Breathe.

The river and sky and trees I share with the robins.

Twisting Fingers

Our hens spend a lot of time roaming around our yard in the summer, and the little plants that pop up in the  vegetable garden are very tempting treats. Stern warnings and pleading has not deterred those little eating machines, so some sort of physical barrier was in order.

I found some rolls of page wire in our woods a few years ago and dug them out last month. There were four sections, all basically sunk into to the the ground and firmly attached with tree roots. My best guess is that the original fence was built some time in the 1930s and could have been taken down after the 1960 West Prince Forest Fire when what had been farm fields was allowed to grow up into the forest that surrounds us now. The wire is old and rusty, kind of brittle, but good enough for what I need. It was easy to find enough small spruce trees that had blown over in the woods to make the fence posts and so I’m now putting my rickety fence together.

Page wire

The person who rolled up each length of fence made sure that it was well secured, the ends wound around to hold the roll together. I wonder who took the fence down and what they thought would happen to the page wire? I wonder what they would make of using page wire to keep hens out of a vegetable garden (I know the answer: it’s a dumb idea because chickens can go through page wire, which is really meant for cows and horses…I have a plan, though!).

The hooks all broke as I straightened them, but the fence is good enough, and I’m happy the wire is being used after decades of sitting and waiting for me to find a use for it.

Kindness Economy

David Cain’s latest post, How to Get Rich in the Kindness Economy, is a great reminder during a time when many fears and anxieties are pressing on me to soften and spread kindness. During my tai chi practice I try to balance strength with softness, intent with relaxation, grounding myself with letting myself fly. Some days it is easier to do than others, but I keep trying, and that’s the journey.

Snowshoe hare

We have always had “rabbits” in our woods, though they are really Lepus americanus, the snowshoe hare. Their lovely brown fur turns white in winter. They love to nibble clover on our lawn and tender plants in our vegetable garden à la Peter Rabbit. In the winter, they eat bark from young trees and tender spruce tips. Heavy snow is their ally as they can reach higher up on trees.

An increase in predators like bald eagles and coyotes in our area, combined with a natural cycle of population peaks, has meant that we haven’t seen hares for a few years, though I have found their tracks and droppings in snow. This little friend was sitting on my mother’s walk last night checking out the neighbourhood and wondering what to eat next (probably my lettuce!). Welcome back.