pretend he’s got eight legs





Third Wednesday is book group, which means dinner beforehand at Tina’s, one of the highlights of my month. She has the perfect touch in the kitchen, crafting wonderful meals from simple ingredients. Her home is quiet, calm, beautiful. There, I exhale.

We then spend a couple of hours with the erudite folks in our intellectual book group, whose breadth of scholarship far exceeds mine. I’m a relative newcomer to this decades-old cadre of literature-lovers, and I’m still re-learning how to read for criticism, not just for pleasure. Thus I’m frequently quiet at these meetings, having few unique insights on the month’s book, though I’m delighted to absorb the percipience of others.

But tonight I had plenty to say about Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast, having once been married to a man somewhat like Allie Fox, and having gone off with him ‘into the wilderness’ with a baby in tow, long ago. I well know the charm of a charismatic apocalyptist. The motives and fears of the nameless mother in the story excited a little passion in me. And who can deny the truth in some of Allie’s words?

We eat when we’re not hungry, drink when we’re not thirsty. We buy what we don’t need and throw away everything that’s useful. Why sell a man what he wants? Sell him what he doesn’t need. Pretend he’s got eight legs and two stomachs and money to burn. It’s wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Afterwards, our elderly French matriarch approached and took my hands, asking more questions about my life and saying how glad she was to know me. I felt awkward and a little abashed. I’m not comfortable in the spotlight, but it did feel good to make a contribution. I slipped away home as quickly as I could.

Tomorrow I go back to my job in advertising, helping to sell a man what he doesn’t need. Returning to homesteading sounds pretty good right now.

the (tiny) cost of using your own produce bags


I had a crazy argument with the cashier at my supermarket yesterday. As well as taking my own carry bags, I take my own bags for produce. Some of them I’ve sewn from netting, others are recycled onion bags.

Yesterday, the cashier started removing all my vegetables to weigh them out of their bags. When I expressed alarm, she claimed that it was illegal for her to charge me for the weight of my bag.

Me: “The bag’s weight is insignificant. Please just leave the food in the bags.”
She: “I cannot! It’s a Weights and Measures violation!”
Me: “But you don’t take the food out of your plastic bags to weigh it!”
She: “Our bags don’t weigh anything.”
Me: “And neither, in the scheme of things, do mine. I’ve been bringing my own bags for years. This has never been an issue.”
She (as she was about to tip all my Brussels sprouts out onto the scale): “It’s illegal! It’s a Weights and Measures violation.”
Me: “This makes no sense. Please call a manager.”

I ended up leaving with my produce intact. When I got home, I decided to weigh my bags, to see how much I was actually paying for them.


Brussels sprouts, no bag: 24 ounces exactly.


Brussels sprouts, in supermarket plastic bag: 24.05 ounces.


Brussels sprouts, in my bag: 24.1 ounces.

So, my bags weigh 0.05 ounces more than the supplied plastic produce bags. One-twentieth of an ounce. 1.4 grams. For the Brussels sprouts, I paid $0.007 extra because I used my own bag. All up, I paid an extra 3c on my grocery bill.

Yeah, I think it was worth it.

you know when you get stuck on a little detail? yeah, that.


On top of cooking for 11, I felt the overwhelming desire to make cloth napkins the night before the birthday lunch. At first I told myself I was crazy, but really, it only took an hour or so while the sweet potatoes were baking. Did anyone notice or care except for me? Probably not. But I was happy.

Chili Lime Sweet Potato Salad


I’m on a sweet potato kick. This recipe’s great for picnics or potlucks as it can be made in advance. In fact, it improves if it sits for a day or so. Just don’t overcook the sweet potatoes.

Chili Lime Sweet Potato Salad

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 scallions, sliced finely
Good handful minced cilantro
Grated zest of 1 lime
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper

Toss the sweet potato cubes with 2 tablespoons of oil and some salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast at 425°F for about 25 minutes or until just tender.

Cool slightly, then mix with bell pepper, scallions and cilantro in a large bowl.

Shake or whisk the remaining ingredients together and pour over the salad, tossing gently to combine. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled. Can be refrigerated for several days before eating.

Salmon Sweet Potato Patties


These are oh-my-goodness good.

1 14 oz can salmon
1 small sweet potato, cooked, cooled, peeled and mashed (prick some holes in it and nuke for 6-8 minutes)
1 egg
4 scallions, minced
Handful of parsley, minced
Zest of one lemon, and half the juice

Drain the salmon. Remove the skin, but leave the bones in. Combine all the ingredients, mashing with a fork. Shape golf-ball sized pieces into patties, and cook in a nonstick skillet with a little olive oil over medium-low heat until nicely browned on each side (a few minutes will do it.)



I had to laugh when I put my glass down; this scene looked so staged, that I just had to photograph it. But honestly, the only styling adjustment I made was to rotate the eggplant so its bar code sticker was hidden.

Here’s my new favourite way to eat eggplant:

Smoky Roasted Eggplant Recipe
1 large eggplant
1 tbs olive oil
2 tsp smoked paprika (it’s gotta be the smoked stuff)

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Cut eggplant into approximately half-inch cubes. There is no need to peel it.
Toss in a bowl with the oil and smoked paprika.
Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 15 mins. Stir and toss, then roast for another 10 – 15 minutes.
Resist the urge to eat the whole lot. Or don’t resist. Not saying which one I did.



The Boy came over for dinner. It’s been months — maybe a year? — since we have hung out, just the two of us. What an awesome human he is. I am so happy to know, and feed, him.


Home made lunch at my desk. Turkey-veggie meatballs and a big ass salad.

When I eat well, I eat really really well.

Turkey Vegetable Meatballs
Serves 6 (3 meatballs each)

1 lb ground turkey
1 carrot, grated
1 zucchini, grated
1 onion, grated
5 button mushrooms, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ – ½ cup finely chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley and thyme, but use what you have)
1 egg
Dried red chile flakes, to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tbs olive oil

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking dish with foil.
2 Mix all ingredients except the oil with a fork, and a light touch.
3 Shape into 18 meatballs, 1 ½” to 2” diameter.
4 Bake for 25 minutes. They will ooze a lot of liquid, so remove from oven carefully.
5 Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Remove meatballs from baking dish with tongs, and sauté in the oil until browned on all sides.

According to this web site, the nutritionals are:

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 8.44.19 AM

crunchy kale salad

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They served us this at work the other day. I brought home the recipe. DEE-LISH!

No quantities on the ingredients. Use as much or as little as you desire.

Kale leaves, julienned, and massaged with lemon juice and honey. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours (according to the recipe), and up to four days (which is what I did, and it was fine.)

Add chopped:

dried cranberries
dried apricots
green apples

Toss well, and drizzle with some superb balsamic vinegar*.

* My addition. I used this. It is truly swoon-worthy.

heaven in a bowl

I invented this soup a couple of weeks ago, and the bf said it could possibly be the best soup he’s ever tasted. So I jotted down the ingredients, and tried it again this morning. It wasn’t a fluke. It truly is awesome. So much so, that I’m calling it Heaven in a Bowl.

Heaven in a bowl

Want to make it yourself? Here’s how:

Olive or coconut oil
3 chicken sausages*, fully cooked and diced
1 large onion, diced
4 – 5 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1 butternut squash (or similar pumpkin), cut into chunks
Freshly ground pepper
1 can coconut milk (not the ‘lite’ stuff)
2 large handfuls baby spinach

Heat some oil in a large sturdy pot. Sauté the diced sausage until browned; remove and set aside.

Add more oil, and sauté the onion till soft. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the broth, squash and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer till squash is tender. Remove from heat.

Blend with a stick blender until desired consistency is achieved.

Add the coconut milk and stir until incorporated. Add the sausage and spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted.

You’re welcome.

*I used Aidells, an all-natural brand of precooked sausages. I recommend finding one that includes some kind of fruit. I’ve tried both chicken/mango and chicken/apple; the fruity flavours go perfectly with the other sweet ingredients. If you are starting with raw sausages, cook and dice them before commencing this recipe.

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