Inspired Inspirilisation

I’ve been “doing the veggie thing” for many, many years now, but I’ve always felt like I was missing something. Some secret. Some trick. Something that would make me, a long-time plant-eater, into a lover of raw vegetables. You know – salady stuff. Yes, I’m still munching my way through more lettuce than even a salad-lover would like (see the lettuce eat blog from a couple of weeks ago) but it’s more of a duty than a delight. And then it struck me. What I needed to get inspired was a spiraliser!

Last year I tried following recipes in a book called “Raw, Quick and Delicious”, and found that I disagreed with 2 out of those three claims. The recipes were definitely raw, but the quick and delicious components somehow evaded me. Yes, I was severely handicapped by my dislike of salads, and I quickly loose interest in nuts, but I was also hampered by my lack of a magical spiralising machine (and juicer and dehydrator and, at the time, a decent blender).

I bought a really cheap hand-held spiraliser after failing to stick to a raw diet for 36 hours, but succeeded in spiralising my finger and very little else. So, at the recommendation of some of my FB friends, I’ve now bought something more substantial. It came with 3 different blades. It came with suction cups to stop it from moving. It came with a piece broken off. I decided to give it a test drive to see if I wanted a refund or a replacement, and started to play.

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Did you ever see the you-tube “will it blend?” videos? They’re a lot of fun (but don’t try it at home). Anyway, my kitchen turned into a spiralised version of this. Zucchini, yellow beet, carrot, onion, potato, tomato (I think mine was too soft to be successful), apple, pepper…..will it spiralise? Yes it will! I’ve had soooooo much fun that I’ve requested a replacement rather than a refund.

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This is one of my early attempts at a salad. Beet, zucchini, chopped green onion, chopped fresh basil, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and raw corn, all tossed together with a splash of avocado oil, a pinch of salt and lashings of black pepper. I ate the whole dish, even returning to it after a mid-munch phone call. I think I might be on to some thing here.

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An enhanced version of the salad materialized at dinner time, with the addition of spiralised red pepper and carrot. I served it with spiralised potatoes tossed with a drop of olive oil and baked at 425’f for 20 minutes. I thought they would go crispy, but I think being spiralised damaged the cell walls too much and they were soft. Tasty, but not quite what I expected. The fish-patty like object sitting on the plate is a Sophie’s fishless fillet, which really isn’t like fish in any way, shape or form. Gardein makes fishless “fish” in batter which is, in stark contrast, a bit too fishy for me!

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I’m looking forward to playing with my food over the next few weeks – although this may be hampered by my impending trip back to the UK, the return of my Indian book from my editor (no doubt there will be comments that some of my sentences are too long…again), and my current self-imposed challenge to veganise some of my great Aunt’s 1922 recipes AND make them gluten free. Watch this space for all the fun as it unfolds!

Karen 🙂

Techno Babble

Yes, this week’s blog is late. Tell me about it. Cry me a river. I know…I know. I’ve been having a few technical issues owing to the vast number of photos on my laptop, which rather unfortunately this week cried “STOP!!! I’ve had enough!! I’m not going to play with you anymore!” and demanded something be done immediately. I couldn’t upload any more photos, couldn’t see or edit the ones I already had, and was kinda stuck. No matter how hard I pushed, my laptop refused to budge on the issue. Bummer.

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I had a word with my tech guy (love you hon) about resolving the issue, which is a blog in it’s own right. It involved trips to Staples and Best Buy, heated (for us) arguments with each other and sales assistants about what the best solution would be (clouds? extra external hard drives? back-ups of backed-up backups? wireless? attached? what to do when my laptop and I want to move to a location other than my desk?). But you don’t want to know all the gory details, so briefly put… here are some pictures to help you understand the general concept.

This is what I asked for (note the small size):

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This is what he heard:

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This is what I suspected I would get:

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This is what I got:

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My desk is covered in “techno stuff”, my files are being shifted around and are currently in a state of disarray, but I have hope that sometime soon order will be restored. But, in the meantime…..AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGH!

So, sorry for the interruption in service, but next week there should be something inspirational. Something which will send you spinning in spirals of excitement. Something grate (pun intended, it’s not a spelling mistake).

‘Til next week!

Karen 🙂

When Doves Cry

For a while now hubby and I have had bird feeders hanging in our yard, supplying our friendly squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks with tasty nuts and seeds scattered around by the birds. We regularly see blue jays, red cardinals, sparrows, crows, a really pretty bright yellow bird or two, starlings and, until yesterday, a pair of doves.
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Our cats sit with their noses pressed against the screens of our porch watching the antics of the wee beasties outside, while the pretty silver grey cat from down the road hides under my patio chair, tail twitching. She likes to watch, but I’ve never seen her try to catch anything. I’m not saying she doesn’t try, just that she never does it while I’m around.

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But yesterday something changed. I looked out of the window during a pause in the torrential rain and saw a bird of prey standing on my lawn. She was beautiful, with flecked feathers, bright eyes and a small, curved beak. She caught my movement out of the corner of her eye and turned her head to look at me before deciding I was harmless and returning to the task in hand. It was then that I realised why she was in my garden. She was standing on the lifeless body of one of the doves, ripping out his feathers and tossing them aside.

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I was totally conflicted. The vegan part of me wanted to run out there, waving my arms (underarms flapping wildly like the arms of old folks tend to do) and yelling “Don’t eat my dove, you murderous beast!” while the other part of me analysed the situation calmly, aided by the engineer standing at my side. “If you take the dove away from her she’ll just kill something else for her dinner. The dove’s already dead, so she might as well keep it.” The falcon (?) decided she didn’t like being watched, picked up her prey and flew off to finish preparing it for supper somewhere quieter. The rain started to fall again, washing blood into the soil and making a soggy mess of the plucked feathers. I need to go out there and remove them at some point. I don’t want a daily reminder of the harsh realities of nature.

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But here’s the thing. The bird of prey was only doing what comes naturally to her. She’s a carnivore. She eats other animals. She has no choice in the matter. The dove was in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up as dinner. It’s a natural cycle of life and death. Some folks argue that eating animals is also natural, and therefore right, for humans. We, however, have choice. Eating meat isn’t a necessity for humans, it’s a choice. Taking calves away from their mothers so people can drink cow-milk isn’t natural or necessary. It’s a choice. Raising chickens in huge barns where they never see the light of day, then hanging them upside down and electrocuting them isn’t right or necessary. It’s a choice. Putting a bolt into the head of a terrified cow to make into steak for the barbecue isn’t necessary. It’s a choice. Slaughtering dogs and serving them at a festival isn’t necessary – it’s a choice. Killing pigs in the name of bacon…no, it’s not necessary. It’s a choice. Boiling a lobster alive…do you see where I’m going here? Humans aren’t carnivores. We’re omnivores….with a choice.

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Today a lone dove came down to forage for food, and I was sad. Do doves mourn? I don’t know. But this is what is sounds like when doves cry

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Karen.

Tales from my Doorstep

I’d like to take a brief moment to wish my fellow Canadians a belated Happy Canada Day (did you see the photos of our PM in the Toronto Gay Pride parade? He’s been going for years, but this was his first attendance as prime minister), those in the US a belated Happy 4th of July, and those in the UK….well…I’m not quite sure what to say. Congratulations of your Brexit vote? Maybe not….

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I spent Canada Day sitting at home with my beloved and the cats, doing very little. Any thoughts of heading out to see bands or fireworks were thoroughly dampened by the weather even though Mother Nature gave us a nice thunderstorm in lieu of fireworks. It was actually really nice to be home and not working. No laptop, no writing, no research…just chillin’

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Lazing around the house on Canada Day was a nice change from the everyday, even though I work from home. Most days find me slaving away either at my desk or in the kitchen, aided and abetted by my tech-savy cats.  Laundry, cleaning bathrooms, gardening and other mundane tasks are not sufficient to tempt me away from my desk – that’s what weekends and evenings are for. Phone calls (I have call display and an answer machine) probably won’t get answered except for some friends, my hubby or my kids. I love email and facebook messenger, both of which allow me to “chat” without either leaving my desk or having to actually have a conversation. And yes, I prefer to text rather than phone.

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The doorbell, however, is quite tantalising and can, on occasion, lure me away from my keyboard. Not every time mind you. If I’m not expecting anyone, haven’t ordered anything from Amazon, or it’s driveway-sealing-promo-season I’m less likely to budge. But sometimes that unexpected ding-dong (or a firm rap on the door) piques my interest. I’ve met some very interesting people on my front porch. Biggles usually checks them out through the window to make sure they’re OK.

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I think the most surprising porch-encounter happened during the last local election. The doorbell rang while I was washing strawberries, and since I had already left my desk to attend to this task I wandered over to the door to see who wanted to enliven my day. It was somebody from the Green Party – the only political figure who bothered to come a-calling. He told me something about his party’s manifesto and asked me if I was concerned about the environment. “Yes” I replied “I’m a vegan, so I’m well aware of the damage factory farming is doing to the environment.” His face contorted a little. “You’re a vegan???” “Yes” I smiled. “And you?” He looked around for inspiration and found none. “I can see you’re very busy” he stammered “So I’ll leave you to whatever you have to do. I hope we have your vote.” and with that, he fled over the lawn to find a safer place to canvas. I don’t know why the thought of talking to a harmless lettuce-eating veg-head would cause him to flee, and I returned to washing my strawberries feeling bewildered. Yes, I’m vegan…but I’m quite nice when you get to know me.

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A more amusing episode played out last week when a tall, muscular young man knocked on the door. He was holding a clipboard towards his chest and he gave me a big, confident smile. “Hi” he started “I’m Pat (made-up name to protect the innocent) and I’m doing your neighbour across the road.” I couldn’t help laughing out loud. “You’re doing my neighbour?” He nodded his confirmation. “Would you like me to do you too while I’m in the neighbourhood?”  I was trying not to snort at this point and I looked at him closely to see if he was being deliberately funny. Nope. No trace of humour intended. I took a deep breath to keep my voice steady. “I can’t see your clipboard. What exactly are you doing with my neighbour?” Realisation dawned on him and he showed me his clipboard, uncovering the badge on his t-shirt as he did so. “I’m from a lawn company. I’m doing her lawn.” He looked a bit flustered as he turned to look at my grass. “Er….do you do your own lawn maintenance?” We both looked at my lawn in silence for a while, and there was no point in denying the obvious truth. “Let’s just say that I do my own maintenance, but I  haven’t done any recently.” The 39’c days and lack of rain had taken their toll on my grass, and my reluctance to stand there with a hose pipe showed. Pat offered to maintain my lawn for me, for “a reasonable rate.” “I’m sorry” I said “but I’m really cheap. I can’t pay someone to do something I should be doing myself.” He asked if I’m Scottish. Some of his relatives are Scottish and they’re really cheap too “which makes me part Scottish” he continued “and I wouldn’t pay for someone to do my lawn either.” We both shrugged at the irony of his summer job before he set off to see if the Carolyn next door wanted “doing”.

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A couple of days ago I was tempted away from my desk by banging on the door near getting-up-to-make-dinner-time. A man from Disabled Veterans Support Canada was there, doing their yearly door-to-door campaign. We chatted for a while about the charity – they’ve increased funding for the suicide prevention phone line – and as he handed me a receipt he asked if I studied reiki. I shook my head. For those who, like me, have little idea of what reiki is (I’ve googled it now), it’s a Japanese relaxation and healing system which “channels life force energy.” He enthusiastically told me that he thought I studied reiki because I’m “obviously very grounded and spiritually open, and positive life force energy is flowing into me through wide paths”. I said nothing, wanting to neither encourage nor discourage him. He wanted to know what my secret is to being so grounded. I had to say something. “I’m vegan.” He smiled and said “That must be what it is. It’s very important to be in tune with what you eat and how you live.” “So you’re also a vegan?” I asked, thinking it was a fair question at this point. No. He’s trying to give up red meat, but he still eats fish and chickens and pigs. “It’s a good place to start” I told him. “Perhaps next year when you come back you’ll tell me you no longer eat any animals.” “I think you’re right” he replied. “I can see that happening. I thought I would always want to eat meat, but now I can see that giving it up would be the better way. It’s important to follow the positive paths we encounter in our life’s journey. Thank you.” And once this soap-opera-worthy speech had been delivered off he went, hopefully travelling not only towards my neighbour’s porch but also towards a greater connection to his food and a healthy, guilt-free, positive-energy diet.

By the following morning the “positive energy flowing into me” must have run out. I walked into the shower door. I ran over my foot with my office chair (don’t ask). The electronic doors at Canadian Tire wouldn’t open for me. A car nearly reversed into my (big shiny bright red) RAV4. The electronic measuring machine at the optometrists wouldn’t save my data. My environmentally-friendly water bottle flipped its lid and drenched my gym bag. My (thankfully almost empty) shampoo bottle leaked in my gym-bathroom-bag. My perfectly-ripe-avocado was black and soggy inside. My new spiralizer (hopefully more about that next week) arrived with the handle broken off and has to go back. I stepped on an unexpected pile of cat poop in the middle of my dark brown rug. And as for the blue hair dye debacle…..let’s not even go there!!!!! Poor Sparta finds all this negative energy quite exhausting.

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Life is strange. One day might be full of sunshine while the next one has more cat poo than one would like. But we’re always moving into the future, making choices as we go. Some, such as dropping the meat or eating more veggies, are good choices. Some (especially those involving blue dye) are perhaps not so good. But we’re all on a journey of some kind. If your journey brings you to my front porch feel free to ring the bell. You never know, I might actually answer the door. And if  you want to do a little free lawn maintenance while you wait, I won’t object…

Karen 🙂