Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hope For Cadance

I don't know where to even begin with this post.

One of the most precious little person in my world is sick and I am feeling completely powerless. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is what they call it, but I just call is surreal.

I don't want to go into detail about this story, because it is just too close to my heart. However, I do want to say that I am so honoured, proud and touched by the generosity and love shown from my hometown during this straining time. After the diagnosis, the family has been incredibly busy trying to get our personal agendas in line, when all of a sudden there was this massive out-pour of community support which emotionally blindsided me. People reaching out to help in any way they can, whether it be by saying a prayer for the family, or by lending out a basement to crash in while staying in Vancouver, or even sending various amounts of money to raise funds during this chaotic turn of events.

The support of all of these people and knowing that they are in our corner when they are needed is such an astounding feeling. Amazing is the only word that comes to mind.

I want to thank everyone for everything that is being done. Friends and relatives are reaching out to ask how to help, so if you want to know how to contribute, the link to the cause is as follows:

Hope for Cadance or simply http://www.gofundme.com/hope4cadance

Thank you for the good wishes.

Thank you for the love.

Thank you for the support.

Thank you so much.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pumpkin Chicken Curry Soup

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

Or in my world, with great masses of frozen pumpkin comes great need to find ideas to deal with it.

Pumpkin can be tricky to get rid of unless you want to create copious amounts of muffins, loaves and cookies. And I’m just one person. Eating it all would result in great mass-destruction of my thighs and ass.

So after staring into my fridge and cupboards for a couple minutes, I created a super tasty Pumpkin Chicken Curry Soup which will make a believer out of those who scoff soups and savoury items made with pumpkin. I enjoyed it so much that I have made it twice now and have been eating it nearly every day at work.

If you’re interested in making some for yourself and/or the family, here is my “recipe” for your enjoyment (keep in mind that I pulled this recipe out of nowhere so these measurements are not at all perfect and you might need to add a little extra this and little less of that to make it your own).

Make-Shift Pumpkin Chicken Curry Soup

- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
In a large pot with some vegetable or coconut oil, cook until softened (5 minutes). Add:
- 2 tbsp red curry paste
- 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
Cook about 5-7 minutes or until veggies are softened. Add
- 3 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
- Enough chicken stock to cover the veggies
Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and simmer until everything is very soft. Add:
Using a hand blender (or a regular blender if that’s all you have), blend the soup until it is mostly smooth (I like it to be a little chunky but I’m strange that way). Add:
- 2 cups diced cooked chicken
- Lots of black pepper
- Lots of Sriracha (or just a little if you’re a WIMP!)
Heat through and enjoy!

Note that I don’t add any extra salt because I use chicken stock and hot sauce which provides plenty of flavor for me. If you wanted to, you could also add some cream or yogurt to make it nice and creamy but I find that the texture is pretty delicious without it. Then again, I’m not into cream soups. You can also make it vegetarian by using vegetable stock and omitting all forms on chicken. Still tasty in vegetarian form!

I hope you all enjoy this recipe and actually give it a try. You can easily omit the potatoes if you want something with less carbs/starch, but I like how thick the potatoes make the soup.

It's funny. I was concerned about having too much pumpkin and not knowing what to do with it. Now I am panicking knowing that I'm already running low and will need more to keep up with my new soup addiction. Anyone have any pumpkins they want to contribute to my newest addiction? 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

(Insert Vicious Comment Here)

Today I had a moment in which I was ashamed of myself and came to the realization that all people, including mild mannered me....please no comments...can have a startling Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde moment.

Have you ever watched the HBO stand-up “Oh. My. God.” By Louie C.K.? At one point he talks about how he transforms into this person whom he doesn’t even recognize when he is driving in his car. Words, expressions and horrible things that he would never ever say to anyone in any other circumstance, suddenly flow freely the moment that he is behind the wheel of his car. Even if someone does something super minimal, something that does not corrupt the flow of traffic or put him in any real danger, he will go off the deep-end and say something downright horrific to the driver of that car (obviously the other driver can’t hear him).

Well today that was me. And no, it was not my first offense of saying slanderous obscenities to complete strangers while driving in my car. Things that I would never ever say outside of my vehicle just come pouring from my mouth without a thought of how incredibly vile they sound coming from any human being. Plus I am usually such a courteous driver! I let people in and I give little waves when others let me in! I don’t rush to beat red lights and I don’t get all bent out of shape when I am stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Now you’re probably thinking “Omigod! What is this callous person saying to these poor people?” In my defense, these horrible things likely aren’t as bad as 90% of the filth that comes out of most people’s mouths, but by my personal standards, they’re pretty bad. And as soon as I say them I am like, “GASP! Why did I just say that?” What compels me to become this profanity slinging motorist? Most of the time I am a go-with-the-flow, take things as they come at me, kind of person who wouldn’t let something like getting cut off on the TransCanada by a crappy little Nissan Sentra, send me into a verbal tailspin.

But them sometimes…..

Is it knowing that I can verbally attack a complete stranger without him/her ever knowing it that allows me to curse and wish malicious things upon that person? Yes he cut me off and I had to slam on my brakes to keep from rear-ending him…but does that make it OK for me speak the way I did? Even if he never knows it?
Maybe I’m just spending too much time driving from Point A to Point B these days and it’s turning me into this person. Or maybe I just miss having a job that allows me to swear like a sailor (damn I miss the bakery sometimes). Maybe I need to find an outlet for this road rage.

This story on livescience.com (I love this website) says that we are simply territorial creatures and the car is just an extension of our territory. When people tail-gate, cut us off or do something within close proximity that affects our territory, we get emotional and end up in a state of mental and verbal chaos. But what I don’t get is that if someone were to cut me off in a place such as a clothing store and I had to take a couple step backs to avoid getting pushed over, yes that person got into my personal space but I wouldn’t verbally attack the that person.

I think being able to swear, curse and yell obscenities in the safety of the car is what sends us into the road rage state. Having that one space to say the things that we normally could never say to people is a form of aggressive outlet. I’m not saying that this is a good thing and I am ashamed of what I say when cooped up in the privacy of my little Honda…but at least I know that this is normal and it’s not as though I do it very often. Most of the time I am too busy belting out the words to whatever song my iPod flips to to put out the effort to yell at the stranger in the Tacoma in front of me. 

I’ll get to Point B when I get there. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Today Class - P is for Pumpkin!

Most days I feel like a bumbling fool without the knowledge or ability to really teach or contribute to society. I'm not dumb by any means and I've learned a thing or two from my time on this earth, but c'mon...people aren't knocking down my door to pick my brain to reveal the vast amount of wisdom and knowledge buried deep within. However, every so often I come across a chance moment in which I know something that someone in my circle is not aware of and I jump on the opportunity to teach and explain all that I know.

Two mornings ago, hours before the roosters were rubbing the sleep from their eyes, I picked up a co-worker on the way to work. While I sat in my car waiting for her to finish packing up her stuff inside her house, I noticed that she had a fair number of leftover Halloween pumpkins sitting in her yard. A couple hours into the shift I asked if she was planning on doing anything with her pumpkins. She sighed heavily and explained that she just didn't have the time to even carve them this year since she's been so busy with work and renovations on the house, so they were just going to get composted. I asked if it would be alright for me to grab a couple of them (because I LOVE roasted pumpkin seeds and hated the idea of them going waste), which she easily permitted.

Then I said that if she wants, she can give me some old empty yogurt/butter/ice cream containers and I will bake the flesh for her and she can have it to do with as she wishes. I had so much left over from my own pumpkins that my freezer couldn't take on any more, but I didn't want it to go to waste so I would do that for her if she wanted. I also know that she is a fantastic cook and baker so she might want the pumpkin for future kitchen endeavors. She gave me this strange look and asked what I meant. I repeated the offer. Then she asked, "So you bake the pumpkin? In the oven?"

Me - "Yeah, then you can bake or cook with it."
Her - "Like can you make pumpkin pie with it?"
Me - "Yes, exactly, Or loaves, muffins, soups...anything you want."
Her - "So it's like the stuff in the cans at the store?"

Where do people think that canned pumpkin comes from? The label clearly indicates the one and only ingredient in the can - "Pumpkin."

At this point my mind was slightly blown that this woman, in all of her life, never baked the flesh of an old Jack O Lantern to use for her future baking needs. And then I thought, "Is it common for people to not do this?"

Throughout my years I have learned that it is slightly uncommon for people to bake their pumpkins and use it to cook with, but now I have learned that is it way more uncommon than I realized. In my family, every single November we would bake our pumpkins, scoop out the flesh and freeze it where it would be an important ingredient in future pumpkin loaves, muffins and other delicious baked goods. It's a super easy process and will save you lots of money on that canned pumpkin you buy in the stores.

So this morning I went and swiped 3 of the abandoned pumpkins from my co-worker's driveway and recorded the process for your learning needs. Here is the easy step-by-step process to baking your old Halloween pumpkin to create your very own stock of healthy and homemade pumpkin puree.

Step 1: Take an old Jack O Lantern.
Please make sure that it is not moldy. Ewwwww. 

Or as I did today, take a pumpkin and scoop out the guts.

Do not forget to keep the guts! Those seeds are priceless!

Step 2: Cut the pumpkin in half and place face down on a baking sheet. 

Step 3: Bake at 375 degrees F for 45-90 minutes, depending on the thickness of the flesh.
The skin will get dark and wrinkly.
Step 4: When the pumpkin cools a little, peel off the skin.
It will naturally pull away from the flesh so this is an easy task to accomplish.

Step 5: Put all of the pumpkin into a large bowl and puree
it with a hand blender.

Ahhhhhhhh. Nice and smooth.

At this point you can now freeze the pumpkin in empty yogurt containers, or whatever empty plastic tubs you have laying around the basement that you have been waiting to have a chance to reuse. I recommend freezing them in 1-2 cups portions since recipes generally ask for these amounts of pumpkin puree.

But because I am me, I am not done yet because I just did all of this for the seeds! 

Step 6: Toss the raw seeds in some oil and sprinkle generously with sea salt. 
Spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet and roast until brown and crispy. 
Stir them several times in the process to make sure that they roast evenly. 

Step 7: Be a good person and bake your co-worker a pumpkin loaf as a thank 
you for allowing you to take her pumpkins for your own personal use.

Now after all of this, I just know you're thinking that this is way too long of a process and no normal person has enough time to do such a thing. It's really not all that time consuming at all if you are even slightly talented at time management. If you're going to be home doing other chores or in and out doing errands, it's easy to swoop in and out of the kitchen to do these tasks at cooking, cooling and pureeing intervals. 

Or you can just toss your pumpkin off of a roof-top and watch is smash into smithereens onto the street below. Your call. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Plant Praise.....and Mullets.

It's very strange the things that we become personally and emotionally attached to. As children it's things such as a blanket or favourite stuffed animal. The thought of not touching that object at every waking moment was just beyond comprehension therefore mom was likely sneaking it out our beds and tossing them in the wash while we slept oblivious to their absence. As we grow up it can be things such as a favourite hoodie or article of clothing that has sentimental value. Some people become overly attached to their pets and get massive murals created of Mr. Meow or Captain Winky and lovingly hang these above the mantel where they are looked upon with love and pride. Sure the rest of us don't understand why there needs to be a massive 10x10 ft picture of someone's Maltese hanging in the living room when the dog is still alive and sleeping comfortably in his overstuffed bedazzled dog bed just a few feet away...but who are we to judge?

Admit, it. You judge.

My Money Tree
Yes I have a picture!
I seem to become a bit too attached to my plants. Yep, I love my house plants. I don't do things such as sing to them or buy them overly priced organic soil or anything of the such, but I enjoy having plants around and I find them comforting. When I was living in PEI I had a couple plants which I adopted when my roommate Shawn abandoned them. Being the most impulsive consumer that I have ever met, he came home one day with these 2 plants and decided that they would be just what our apartment needed. But it ended up being me who took care of them and brought them back to life when he forgot about them.

After 3 years when organizing to move back to BC, embarrassingly enough, I made a really strong effort to find my plants a good home where I knew they would be loved and nurtured and asked some pretty specific questions to the person to whom I eventually handed them over to. Especially my Money Tree. It almost died once when the heat in the house went out for about a week when we were all away for Christmas and it froze; but I revived it from it's most feeble form! But once I saw the rest of the plants belonging to the girl who I was surrendering my plants over to, I knew they were going to a good home

So now the point of this ramble! Waaaaaaaaay back in the day, the guy I was dating guy at the time had this teeny tiny jade plant which he stuck in a mason jar, with some dirt, and hoped for the best. After some time it outgrew it's jar and we transplanted it into a pot. As plants tend to do, it kept growing. One day while transplanting it again, a branch broke off and I stuck the broken branch into another pot and hoped for the best. If you know anything about these plants you'll know that they are amazingly resilient and will sprout roots in just about anything and survive. So eventually this little branch grew into the plant that I have raised for all of these years.

When I moved to PEI I left the plant with my mom and hoped that she wouldn't kill it (my mom is the best in pretty much every way except for keeping plants alive). Luckily jade plants are amazing and it took more than my mother to kill it.

Love you mom!

My 10 year old Jade Plant. 
Last week my parents came to visit me and they were great enough to pack up the plant and reunite us together again after 5 1/2 long years of separation. Today I bought it a new and bigger pot and am so happy to have it part of my bedroom once again. There's this homey and comforting feeling of it being part of my surroundings again, kind of like the day I finally hung all of my pictures in my bedroom. It's as though a piece of me and my life from BC has come back to me and filled a small gap of what I have been missing since I got back.

I know this will sound silly to a lot of you because yes, it is "just a plant." But I'm cool with you judging me a little for my attachment to my house plants cause I'm totally judging you for holding onto that pair of shoes that were destroyed that one drunken New Year's but you just can't throw away because you kissed that guy that night and hate to get rid of such a memory because maybe, just maybe, the stars will realign and you will cross paths once again.

Uh huh.

And one last thing that has nothing to do with my silly plant love. I saw this on TV and I nearly peed my pants with glee! It's an online dating service called Mullet Passions and it's for people who have or who have a hankering for people who have mullets!!

HEHE! I am a HUGE fan of the mullet and I fear the day that they ever become extinct (hopefully this happens well after I am gone), so I was so pleased that the mullet community has come together to openly share their love for their classic hair-do.  I almost want to join just to see what's going on on there! It makes me so happy!

Maybe if I joined then someday I could be as happy as this couple. One could only wish.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's That Time Again

It’s that time of year again. The time of year that I try to block from my mind until it eventually creeps up and I have to face the calendar and accept what is before me. That special time of year in which all women are cringing and all razor companies take a major hit in sales.

Yep, it’s Movember. The unsexiest month of the year.

I can truly appreciate that men are all coming together to express their support towards the awareness and fight against prostate and testicular cancer...but isn’t there a better way to do it? Let’s face the facts here people. About 99.6% of the male population cannot pull off a moustache without looking like a pedophile or police officer from an 80’s movie. Plus there are an alarming number of men who simply cannot grow a decent moustache and end up having just patches of creepy fuzz on their upper lip, causing a look of prepubescent awkwardness. Wasn’t puberty bad enough for them that they wish not relive those feelings of physical discomfort? 

And for the record, yes, there are some really, really sexy guys out there sporting moustaches. One of them might even work at a local Costco store (says a certain friend of mine who shall remain unnamed...and I agree with her). 

This isn't him...but we appreciate Tom Selleck. 

I have come up with a theory that I plan to follow up on. It’s called the Movember Baby Theory and in this theory, I am going to suspect that the number of babies born in the months of August and September are going to and have already increased dramatically due to the up rise of Movember moustaches hitting the streets. My bets are that there is less sex happening during this month and that the number of women’s headaches and strangely lengthy periods are oddly increasing. But by the time December comes around and those moustaches are washed down the bathroom drain, the ladies will be happy again. Hence, late summer/early autumn babies!

In my mind I think that the best way to approach Movember that proves that you are not just some creepy dude with a stache, is to do a fairly unconventional moustache. This approach helps to show that the moustache is for the month and not a full-time feature on your face. For example, the handlebar moustache. Most dudes don’t have one of these so most people seeing it will think, “Ah yes. That must be for Movember.” Or pair the moustache with some sweet mutton chops. Go overboard with it guys. The last thing you want is some hot chick to wonder if your creepy wisp of thin hair on your upper lip is a permanent accessory on your face.

Now I fully support the fight against prostate and testicular cancer. These are scary diseases and the fact that they target younger men (specifically testicular) is alarming because most younger men are not going to be checking themselves or placing themselves in a category that worries about cancer. If wearing a moustache for a month is going to remind these men to go home and "check themselves”, then that’s awesome! Please guys, don't overlook the central meaning behind the moustache to just do something that society is really promoting as being “cool” or “trendy”. Go home and check yourself or go to your doctor and ask to be examined and tested. 

In the lunch room today I saw a notice on the bulletin board that restored my faith in the message behind Movember. They’re calling forward men who work for the hospital to register online, grow the famous moustache trademark and get donations from friends, family, coworkers or anyone who understands the story of the moustache. Raising money for awareness and finding the cure of the key to all of this and I for one will support anyone who comes my way asking to help fight prostate and testicular cancer.

And if anyone needs any help learning how to grow a proper moustache, here is a 2 minute instructional video from Nick Offerman. Enjoy!