our place in the sun

Wow, this week has just gone and nothing seems to have happened. And yet, our house in numbers for the last 8 days looks something like this:

  • 6 essays written
  • 5 languages spoken and/or translated from/into
  • 3 dinners consisting of Tim Horton’s
  • 1 extra major declared
  • 3 shifts of work
  • 5 days of above 0 degree temperatures + 3 rainstorms
  • 2 suppers cooked (on the actual stove)
  • 2 birthdays celebrated
  • 1 house guest
  • 7 philosophers discussed, argued over, and
  • 0 midterms (yet… woohoo)

So there was some Glazed Carrot Soup made (p. 105) and Spicy No-Mayo Coleslaw (p. 49), but otherwise that, not a lot of food being prepared, though plenty being consumed…

The beautiful (or horrendous?) part of all this excessive work and lack of time is that the things you want become suddenly so much clearer. This week has presented pleas for more hours, less work, higher grades, fewer classes, another major, a plane ticket home (or 2), a plane ticket literally ANYWHERE, visitors, friends to come to Newfoundland, Newfoundlanders to go to friends in Nova Scotia, another cup(s) of coffee, and again, just a little more time.

The moral of this week of pleas? Time, friends, visitors, travel, and home. Through discussions of hell with Dante, death and anxiety with Heidegger, and Augustine’s constant desire to find some kind of peace, it’s no wonder that these themes keep arising in that real, not-quite-so-philosophical life we are actually leading.

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So although the school stuff, and the money stuff and what we’re going to eat for supper are all things that take up time and brain space, what we ask for when we’re going crazy are the things that actually matter. The phone calls from friends on your birthday, or the surprise house guests, planning for trips back home or the desire to keep seeing new things, with enough time to do the things we love – those things matter. It should not take a moment of intense anxiety, as Heidegger says, to make one realize that we need to pursue those things, and not all the others. We should not need to wait for weeks of feeling overwhelmed and over worked to realize that there are things that are important, and we can ask for them. We will always ask for more coffee, new shoes, better weather. Why is it so much harder to say ‘I need time, and space’ or ‘I want someone to keep me company and tell me it’s okay?’

Bell Let’s Talk Day on January 27 brought in millions of dollars to fund initiatives, while promoting conversation about depression, anxiety, OCD, and other mental health issues. Yes, it’s not ideal we have to fundraise for Canadian mental health projects. But at the same time, having conversations across the country about what we can do for each other to help our mental health – those are good conversations. We don’t need to be diagnosed with an illness to recognize that we need company, friends to talk to, visitors to come and stay. We need time and space and caring people to say ‘Hey, I’m here. I’m listening.”

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So, in the spirit of Let’s Talk Day, and of Heidegger and Dante and all those other cheerful fellows, find your place in the sun this week. Find someone to stand in it with, and take in all that sunlight. Find Augustine’s peace, and don’t wait for Heidegger’s anxiety to make you do it. Call your family, go visit your friends, and we’re going to start trying to ask for the things we really need, not the little things that are taking up space.

(Feel free to send us a note about finding your place in the sun. We love to read and respond to comments here, or on Facebook!)

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food – the ‘cornerstone’ of friendship

Rachel is part of Cornerstone Housing Society here in St. John’s, a group that works to achieve housing for adults with intellectual disabilities, in the L’Arche model. L’Arche was started by Jean Vanier, and is now an international organization providing homes and day programs for people with intellectual disabilities. They live together with their assistants, in the “community model” of living, and support one another in faith, friendship, and day to day life. In the Atlantic provinces, four L’Arche communities exist in Nova Scotia and one in New Brunswick. Eventually, the goal of Cornerstone is to become a L’Arche community in Newfoundland. You can find out more about Cornerstone Housing Society at their website here.

If you’re not familiar with L’Arche, or the L’Arche model, this video is from the Homefires community in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and gives just a taste of what goes on in community on a daily basis:

Cornerstone members meet regularly to share fellowship and food and usually a lot of music and laughter. This week, we were supposed to attend the monthly meeting, which included a potluck supper – an opportunity to cook! – and a trip to Rotary Sunshine Park.

We made a massive quantity of Potato Salad with Cream Cheese and Cheddar Dressing (p. 70 of the big green book). Massive. So much salad, that when the event was cancelled due to poor weather, we had to donate large quantities of salad to our neighbours.

It was a bit ridiculous. The salad was delicious though, rich and creamy, and a perfect snack between classes.

We also tried the Everyday Pancakes (p. 200), with berries.

These are serious pancakes. Not fluffy, crispy edged from-the-box pancakes, but major, heavy on the gluten, cakes of dough.

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And of course, appropriately tasty. Filled with raspberries, and covered with Stonewall Kitchen Spiced Rum Butterscotch Sauce. YUM.

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I also whipped up some Sugar Syrup (p. 857), with cinnamon sticks. It was watery that morning, but we put it in a jar and when we took it out of the fridge the next day, it was the consistency of thin maple syrup, and a perfectly good substitute.

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Pancake batter left overnight makes great next-day crepes, a big hit around here with butter and powdered sugar. You really can’t go wrong.

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foods for flu recovery

We could not be happier this week is over. Not only did we fly back to Newfoundland – on the smallest, most turbulent plane ever – but then we got sick, one after the other, and all week have been either in recovery, rest, or bleaching mode. We now have a very clean house.

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Being sick left all food out of the question. The big green vegetarian book was ignored for five days, as was everything except toast and saltines. Fortunately, it has found its way back to us, and we (by ‘we’ I mean me) are back in the kitchen.

This week, we tried Couscous with Broccoli and Almonds (p. 554) and Lentil Samosas (p. 746). 

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The initial plan for this week was to make a lot of dishes featuring the fava bean (also known as the broad bean) which I had intended to purchase dried at the store. Apparently, St. John’s doesn’t like fava beans, and they are not to be found. So we’ve delayed our bean recipes. Also in short supply was anything resembling a green veg, so thank you frozen food for packaging lovely fresh-looking broccoli.

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Having acknowledged all of those challenges, we dove back into the book, and slightly modified the couscous dish (it was definitely supposed to have walnuts. We didn’t have any walnuts). But the almonds were great, and while I loved mine with cheese, Rachel had hers seasoned with panko crumbs as the book suggested, and it was also tasty.

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But the real hit was the samosas. Rachel is scared of making samosas (Rachel doesn’t go in the kitchen, period), but they were really straightforward. The filling took about 45 minutes, but just to get the lentils to soak up all the water.

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The dough is always the worst part (and the part that turns everyone off making samosas in the first place), but I put the dough in the fridge overnight, and when I rolled it out the next day, no rolling pin required, it was much easier than people say! Moral of the story – make the samosas. Don’t stress over the dough, it’s fine.

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Of course, nothing goes perfectly, and the filling made twice as much quantity as the dough. Not really sure how that’s supposed to work (any tips Mark Bittman?!) but we stuck it in the freezer, so we can always make more dough.*

*Alternatively, use packaged wonton wrappers, and bake as usual on a greased baking sheet. This is what Rachel will be doing.

Here they are, looking good:

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So, go try to make samosas. If two university students with too much going on who just got healthy can do it, I’m thinking you can too. And if you can’t, well, neither can Rachel (kidding… sort of). Good luck!