2014/07/26

la Directrice



1. Se necesita algunas pertrechos buenos, sólidas. Un bolígrafo. Libros que llevan meses a atravesar. Ropa rígido y de algodón. Papel de color blanquecino. Pero, la vida misma exige un poco de deslustre para crea las condiciones más favorable a hacer el arte. Un ambiente de miseria total no es un requisito; en vez, algún gris, algún opacidad proporciona el sólo fondo adecuado en lo que anhelar a belleza.

2014/04/26

It was a long, dark winter.

One advantage to living so far north is that when the season finally does begin to turn, the days grow longer more quickly and to a greater extent than they do in the south.

A stoicism and grim realism is still pervasive here no matter what the season, but I think that may be what prairie life is like.

We can only try to do things, shoring up optimism with one small action at a time. In my case, this has looked like:
  • Writing a standardized test
  • Purchasing pineapples to remind myself of the sun
  • Making a few friends
  • Getting adult braces...
  • Booking a holiday to Croatia
  • Running
  • Helping to organize a community garden
It felt for a long time that nothing was happening. I think it was because my physical mobility is so much more restricted when there is snow on the ground and temperatures of less than fifteen below: I have to wear a big coat and so many more pieces, all of which have to be put on and taken off when going outdoors and in; I am unwilling to cycle in the snow and ice and cold, so I am left with the comparatively inflexible bus option as my only choice for longer distance transportation; there is so much less daylight time, so I always feel in a rush to get places.

My seven-year-old laptop crashed. My credit card expired. Internet activity ceased. It took awhile to make decisions about the logistics of my material life, but I'm glad I'm back to this long letter to a few friends.
Freedom is a rain jacket and a bicycle.

2013/11/03


Winter descends slowly from the sky; come morning, the ground has disappeared, and just like that, the season changes. I am not totally displeased: the snow-reflected light makes the whole house glow, and the air smells clean. I must be becoming a true Northerner because I even went for a run through the icy streets today.

Local produce has dwindled with the turning of the seasons but in the market I spotted some bright red Chioggia beets.

On my lunch break I had been browsing the cooking section at the university's bookstore when I came across The Swedish Table.

I briefly flipped through it, but I confess I didn't actually read any of the recipes. Nevertheless, the cover image stuck with me, so that when I spotted the Chioggia beets, I knew I wanted to eat them immediately. I also happened to be craving salmon, so that went into my basket, too. What transpired was a slippery pasta of earthiest earth and briniest sea.


Winter Chioggia Pasta
1 to 2 T olive oil
1 large Chioggia beet
1/2 red onion
1/4 cup frozen peas
1 cup cooked salmon (leftover, smoked, candied... even canned)
1 T crème fraîche or sub sour cream, cream cheese, or yogurt
1 fistfull of long pasta
fresh dill and lemon juice to serve

Cook the pasta and drain, saving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. In a large pan, heat olive oil and over medium heat briefly sautee beet and red onion, being careful not to overcook so that they do not drain their colour completely. Add peas and salmon to warm in the pan. As soon as peas have lost their frost, remove from heat, and stir in crème fraîche, supplementing with a little pasta water as you see fit. Add pasta and toss before serving. Make sure you plate it more nicely than I did. I suggest using chopsticks for the pasta and a spoon for the rest. Garnish with chopped fresh dill and a squirt of lemon juice.

2013/10/20




Some snaps from around the allotment gardens down the street.


And then there is our rather sad looking early autumn vegetable box.

Home Improvement

1. I started Cantonese class. Unbelievably, the class costs $0! It's both difficult and very intuitive to formally learn something you've spoken with varying degrees of proficiency since beginning to talk. Eventually I want to learn Mandarin as well--but first, this.

2. I am also coding. HTML, CSS, maybe more later. Starting from the beginning to fill in any gaps in my current understanding before moving beyond. I am adding 15 minutes of coding to my morning routine.

3.  I made a mistake this week. It cost me 2 cups of chicken, a beautiful stock, and some pasta, carrots, and kale. I think it was the rosemary that imparted a mild yet persistent bitterness to an otherwise perfectly silty stock and a simple soup. I tried to save the ingredients by straining and then rinsing them, but they had absorbed too much stock. I hate wasting food.

4. Missing mountains and the ocean. Planned my trip home in December. Trying to get us to the mountains again this year to ski across frozen lake and stew in hot spring.

2013/09/28

Comme Comme Circles Crochet Stolevia La Garconne
Black: velvet, crochet, silk, leather. The military colour and cut of the jacket and the punk masculinity of the shoes balance out the louche velvet and the matronly crochet. I initially loved this look for its simple wearability, but the more I examine it the more radical it becomes.

Comme Comme Circles Crochet Stole and Marc Jacobs Cabouchon Oxford
via La Garconne

2013/09/14




Went to Montreal this summer. Something I miss from "back east": the fabulous bookstores. This Ain't the Rosedale Library (R.I.P.), Type Books, Swipe/Built Books, and Good Egg in Toronto and Drawn & Quarterly in Montreal, where I finally purchased Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries. This meal, made soon after our return home, was inspired more by the colours in the photos on the facing pages in the first image than by any sort of recipe specified or alluded to by the text--although I did make zucchini cakes. The salad interpreted "orange" as a fruit and not a colour, opting for raspberry hued blood oranges, fuchsia beet green stems, and russet skinned new potatoes instead of neon nasturtiums. The chunky, mawed-on-looking "handfuls of salmon" were plated in fulfillment of an intense craving for salmon à la my Poh-Poh's lunchtime kitchen table: straight from the can, with a little soy sauce poured over top. I think I may have substituted Worcestershire sauce, this time.

Incidentally, ate a salad of mixed lettuces and peppery, orange nasturtiums fresh from the backyard garden box last night in honour of a friend's visit on her way home to Montreal from Ulukhaktok, where the local diet includes very few green things.
                           

Type Books, Swipe/Built Books, Good Egg, Drawn and Quarterly
Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries
Shotgun Jimmie's Everything, Everything  

2013/08/28

Chasing Skirt

Looks 1, 3, 6, and 17 from Margaret Howell's Autumn/Winter 2013 Collection
I love Margaret Howell's pieces because they are practical, sincere, and elegant at once. They indicate a strong commitment to modernism. There has been a lot of talk about personal "uniforms" over the past two years, but to wear Margaret Howell is to step into a uniform that has less to do with the individual and more to do with position, context, surroundings, role, and publics. The cut of a blouse or the shape of the skirt reference a wartime only our ninety-something year-old grandparents remember, but this is a past of which we still have a collective awareness, whether through family photographs or popular television. Yet, these garments do not look archaic--they look confidently contemporary. They do not merely illustrate the return of a fad ("Everything comes back eventually!"); rather, they are a reminder of constance. Some people find uniforms restrictive, but I find them liberating. They simplify our choices in a hyper-marketed, consumer driven world. They are meant to withstand daily wear for years to come. They de-emphasize ownership and force someone to look into your eyes rather than at the pattern of your dress to find your spark of individuality. A uniform lets you get down to business, speak from your mind, and cut to the chase.

2013/08/26

"It's the volume"

"The Weather Bunderground" at Traditional Chinese Bun; rooftop gazing in the shadow of the Tower; the ferry back from Poor Pilgrims at the islands.
Strange to have a look at our past lives. Friendships still as great as ever. Lots of excitement for the present and the future, and many indulgent regressions.

2013/08/20


Another reason I love the slow slide of August into September: the anniversary of our first date. Even if at the time I didn't even suspect we were on a date, it is still fun to celebrate something in a summer month; both Co and I have winter birthdays. This year, Co's present arrived a little early: a loaf of bread from Poilâne! In the end, it had perfect timing, as our favourite local bakery had closed shop for the family's annual summer holiday.