Last night I came home and I was starving. Literally on the verge of lunacy. I had taken Glee’na to her rehab swimming (she had knee surgery back in June) and as I was barreling down the highway, I realized that I had somehow forgotten to eat lunch before I left. To do the math, the pool is a 1.5 min drive (round trip), plus an hour swim, so for almost 3 hours, I was flying light. To put this in perspective, generally my tolerance for hunger is maximum 20 minutes. No joke.

I’m one of those people who gets completely bowled-over when I’m famished. I can’t think, I can’t concentrate, my stomach hurts and I feel totally desperate. It’s a very real and emotional experience for me, so I am usually very careful to avoid it and I’m always prepared for when hunger strikes. And no, I’m not diabetic (I’ve been checked). So on my drive, I inhaled my protein bar, but blaspheme!… all it did was throw a driblet to the swine.

So cool, I’m finally home and who do I see awaiting, but my elderly neighbour (she’s the Matriarch of the hood). Now she’s a talker and I’m not in the mood for talking. In fact, I’m not in the mood for anything. All I want to do is get THE F*CK INSIDE and consume. Fortunately, I notice that she is tied into her apron and this means she is in the middle of cooking dinner. Lucky break. She hands me a couple of gossips rags (which she has been saving for me… awww) and off she goes inside to tend to her stove. I’ll catch up with her later, when I’m normal. I really enjoy her company, I do, just not right now.

I went for lunch yesterday (in Victoria) with my friend Nicole and one of the specials was Spaghetti with Italian Sausage and Fresh Fennel. I didn’t end up ordering that, but the idea stuck with me. I have a food sensitivity to fennel, so I didn’t crave that, but I did have two locally made Italian sausages in my fridge. Walking through the door this evening, I was hell-bent on making spaghetti for dinner.

While boiling the water, I liberated the sausage from their casings. I just pushed the meat out the ends into small portions and fried them with red onion and garlic. I added some red pepper and chopped Swiss chard stalks. After that, I poured in a small can of tomatoes and squeezed in a bit of tomato paste. I pitted several kalamata olives and added them to my sauce. Finally, I added chopped Swiss chard (of course, as it goes into pretty much everything) and removed the pan from heat.

For the topping, I shredded a beet and a huge hunk of zucchini (I decided a while ago that raw shredded beets taste good on pasta). To that, I added fresh chopped basil and oregano, and mixed it all together. It’s true that I try to top most of my pasta dishes with a raw, fresh topping like this, as it’s so tasty and healthy. Also, it’s a good way to sneak in raw vegetables, especially if you find it challenging to eat raw foods.  Then, chik chika chika… atop of all of that, a brilliant spot of goat feta and blue cheese.

The moment I had been dying for…

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Mmmmmm ʔapłsqʷii.

This delicacy is a type of smoked salmon (sort of kind of like a salmon jerky, but not exactly), that is Traditional to Nuu-chah-nulth People.  I just happen to be a lucky woman on Friday morning when I arrived at work in Port Alberni and an Elder was sitting in the lobby selling bags of ʔapłsqʷii, that he had made in his smoke house.  YES PLEASE!  My co-worker and I put our funds together and between the two of us $10 was found.

I was very fortunate during my time at Anacla, when I worked for the Huu-ay-aht First Nations,to learn the Nuu-chah-nulth alphabet and some words and phrases (the Nuu-chah-nulth alphabet is much larger than ours).  An Elder named Angie Joe came out every two weeks and taught a language class that was well attended by a core group of community members.  (I hear that class is still going and it warms my heart to receive such news.)  It was during those classes that I learned how to read and pronunciate the language.  I still struggle to spell the words though and my friend Rob Dennis Jr. helped me spell ʔapłsqʷii.

ʔapłsqʷii is a challenging word for me to say.  It has 3 sounds that are not part of the English language and those letters are ʔ ł qʷ, and the “ii” is pronounced as “ee” (I have linked it, but for some reason the audio doesn’t work when it’s linked.  However if you google “Nuu-chah-nulth alphabet, you will get this site and it does work).  People often pronounce it as “up-skwee”, but it’s slightly more complex than that.  More like “up-lth-skwee”… but the qʷ sounds comes from a deep part of your throat.  I have been practising the pronunciation since yesterday and I’m confident that it will come easier to me.

Every Friday on my drive to Port Alberni, I become emotional when I enter into Nuu-chah-nulth Territory.  It’s almost like I have arrived into the solace and security of a Great Grandmother, one that you can tell anything to and you’re free to feel whatever you want.  I find myself able to openly feel things that I normally contain and then easily let them go.  So by the time I get to work, as you can probably imagine, I need some nourishment to build up my strength again.  I’m not talking about a coffee or anything like that, but some real food that truly feeds me.  So to be surprised by this gift of ʔapłsqʷii not only was I fed, but as well I was shown again that Nuu-chah-nulth Territory is a deeply loving place that emanates comfort.  For those of you who have been to Tofino or Ucluelet, you know what I’m talking about.

DO NOT SLEEP ON THIS ONE!  Holy macaroni, this cake is something to write home about!  And I’m not just saying that…

Okay, this evening I watched Jamie Oliver’s TED award speech and then I got all inspired, and then I remembered that I have a field of fallen apples outside… and then I thought about how much I’ve been craving bread lately… and then, and then….  and then, I just had to bake an apple cake.

I have a nice, standby recipe for apple cake that is fool-proof and handy, but you know I wasn’t feeling it.  It is a great cake to show up at someone’s house with, but it’s not the kind of cake that you want for the rest of the week.  It’s sweet and desirable, but it’s best fresh and shared.  You know how some recipes are like that?  Anyway, I decided to browse through my September Canadian Living Magazine and found a section called “Loaves, Cakes and Muffins in a Jiffy“.  I flipped through a couple of pages and finally halted on a cranberry seed muffin recipe (sorry I can’t link, because I can’t find it on the web).  I will say straight up that I am not very skilled with muffins.  I don’t know why, but I have the worst results with them.  However, there is no law against converting a muffin recipe and into a cast-iron cake instead.  Which is precisely what I did.

Using my amazing recipe modifying skills I managed to convert this recipe into a fantastic apple cake.  I did such a good job in fact, the recipe is now only a distant cousin to the original (modifications sometimes lead to transformations, not always, but sometimes… like this time).  Not to blow my own horn or anything, but this recipe is soooo easy and brainless, yet the taste of it is rich, spicy and sweet.  I swear, I ain’t lying.

Hot Damn Apple Cake

Preheat oven to 350

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda and salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp molasses
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup almond milk
1/2 cup oil or melted butter

Topping:
2 cups sliced apples
3 tbsp melted butter
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 chunks of dark chocolate finely cut

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, oatmeal, baking power and soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix in seeds and nuts.  In a separate bowl, whisk sugar, molasses, eggs, and oil. Combine the two mixtures until combined. Pour into a greased iron cast frying pan or favourite baking dish. Place sliced apples on top, pour over butter and maple syrup mixture and sprinkle with dark chocolate. Bake for ~ 50 minutes.

Welcome to apple season!

PS 1: I make my own brown sugar by mixing together molasses and white sugar (~1 cup to 2 to 3 tbsp of molasses), and that is what I have done here.  If you don’t have molasses, add 1/2 white and 1/2 brown sugar to this recipe (for the 1 cup sugar).  Then on your next shopping trip, buy molasses and make your own brown sugar from now on.  You won’t be disappointed and it’s enhanced flavour will be noticed.

PS 2: If you wanted to make this a diabetic cake, replace the sugar with Splenda, but use only about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup, because Splenda is sweeter.  You could still add a tbsp or two of molasses, but check-in with the person you are making this for, to see if that’s okay.

PS 3: I don’t stock milk in my house, so I used almond milk.  Regular milk is fine, as I’m sure soy milk would also suffice.

PS 4: It doesn’t really matter what kinds of seeds and nuts you use.  I happen to have a huge bag of pecans, so I used them.  I probably wouldn’t use sesame seeds, but that’s just me.  Sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds, which ever would all be very good.

PS 5: When I make this again, I think I will use apple sauce instead of oil, as it would be a perfect fit for this recipe.

In my fridge, I had leftovers of lots of squash and pork from last night’s dinner.  Yesterday I decided on a whim that I wanted to have a “taste testing of squash” (I had bought two different ones and wanted to compare them side-by-side) and thus cooked plenty, if not more than enough.  Last evening, I had cooked my squash with apples, turnip, cinnamon, nutmeg, a little bit of butter and smashed garlic, so today I had to work with those particular Autumn seasonings in mind.  The pork, on the other hand, was basic and baked simply with slices of apple, salt and pepper.

I have a HUGE apple tree in the backyard that is ridiculously large.  Even with a ladder, it’s really too high to harvest.  However, apples don’t fall far from the tree so whenever I want, I just go outside, gather a few and cut away the bruises.  They’re completely delicious, so why not?  Glee’na loves them too and it keeps her annoying kitchen habits at bay when I throw her a slice or two (or maybe that is why she’s so bad in the kitchen… hmmmm… anyway, this isn’t a blog about positive reinforcement and dog training).

For tonight’s meal I decided to cook some rice, pick up three apples off the ground, chop up my apples and leftover food and then mix it all together.  It was an easy, healthy thing to do and sometimes that’s all I feel like doing.  Now that isn’t very special is it?  And you know, sometimes cooking isn’t.  Sometimes cooking is basic and tasty, but nothing that blows your mind.  But that’s okay.  I mean, who has the time or energy to bedazzle and outdo themselves every meal?  Admittedly I used to have that kind of steam, but these days… not so much.  Anyway, that’s why they invented sauce and sometimes you have to work it.  Trick of the trade: when your meal is uninteresting, focus on the sauce.

I decided that I wanted a yummy vinaigrette to stir into my dish, because that always breaks the bland.  I learned last night that pork and pickle-y flavours do not go well, as I served mine with a homemade mustard relish.  BLUGH!  It’s a miserable combination and it does nothing for poor pork chops!  (I suppose this is why apple sauce is most often served as it’s accompaniment and being that I eat pork so rarely, I hadn’t really put two and two together before.)  So for my sauce, I knew it had to be sweet and complimentary.

In my little canning jar I put the usual olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and then… a dollop of apple sauce.  Did you know that you can put applesauce in vinaigrette?  Me neither.  Isn’t that crazy??  I shook the creative insanity and then mixed it into my dish.  I have to say I was a little reluctant, because if I blew the dressing, the meal was now going to be slightly boring with a lunatic sauce.  That would not be good and I dread suppers of that nature.  However, my fretting was a waste of thoughts and instead, WOW OH WOW… my meal turned instantly from “meh” to “yes”.  Just like that.  As easy as that.

The dish was very good indeed, but in the future I think some chives or green onions would be a great addition.  It needs some tweaking that’s for sure and I’m okay with that.  (Actually, I think I mentally tweak every meal that I eat.)  Overall I’m pleased with the results and I was stoked about my jar dressing.  Tonight the hero of the dish was the apple sauce and it pulled everything together, like a positive Team Captain.  Go-oooo apples!

I went to the Farmer’s Market today here in Nanaimo (I don’t know what it’s called) and what I’ve noticed so far, is that every Saturday there are different vendures.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just different than what I’m used to.  Not to be like, “Oh well… I’m from Victoria where the Saturday Markets are consistent, rain or shine“, as this is just another quirky little Nanaimo thing-y I’m getting used to.  It’s good, it’s allll good.

Anyway today, TO MY LUCK, Fairy Cakes had a table loaded with cupcakes!!  Talk about awesome!  I don’t know about you, but I have a hard AND difficult time cruising by and ignoring homemade cupcakes.  Aren’t they the best?  Especially beautiful handcrafted cupcakes that instinctively you know taste the way they look… stunning!  Being all casual, I breezed by (I had to, it was right at the entrance) and grabbed all my essential healthy vegetables… FIRST.

As you can see, I really stocked up on squash, beans, potatoes, cucumbers and swiss chard.  However, I purchased only one bulb of garlic (now that I’m at home, I wished I bought more), but I think I was distracted.  I wanted a darn cupcake.  You know how it is.

When I finally situated myself in front of the Fairy Table, with full bags of essential healthy vegetables in hand (and on shoulder), there were only two flavours left: banana and coffee.  (These little cakes had far more sophisticated names than that, but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were.)  Apparently, the other two flavours, lemonaide and something else, sold like hotcakes… ha ha ha.  But as if I cared, what’s gone is gone baby and I like BOTH banana and coffee.  Then I was informed that if I filled out a survey, I would received a FREE CUPCAKE.  Oh, okay… I can fill out a survey that asks me all about my desire for little cakes.  Is that all?  Talk about easy.

At the end of my survey, I acquired a free cupcake and I purchased a second one.  The cakes came in the cutest little containers with little flower cut-outs on top that can be planted in the garden.  These tiny blossoms are actually wild flower seeds… isn’t that cute?  (I put them on the plate in front of the cupcake to show you.)  Then I had to motor to the mall, to go buy some dresses (I lead a tough life).   Sarah, the owner, told me that my cupcakes would be fine in the car while I shopped and she was right!  I love tough, pretty beauties that stick up for themselves… we girls gotta be like that, don’t we?  *snicker*

At home, I sort of inhaled the coffee cupcake (thus no photo) and decided to hold off on the banana one for at least an hour.  Out of the two, I preferred the banana, but that’s only a taste thing.  Both cupcakes were delicious, and were made with real dairy ingredients and love.  I could taste that.  The icing wasn’t too sweet, as I find most icing to be and I managed to eat all of it, which says a lot coming from me.  As I’m the girl that usually only eats the cake and cuts the icing off to the side.

The bottom line: if you have a chance and you live in the hood, definitely check out her website and definitely buy a cupcake!  And it don’t matter if you’re on a stinkin’ diet… forget about it for a Saturday 🙂

Anyone who really knows me (this is a test people…) KNOWS I love kale.  I love it, because it’s green, it’s BIG, it’s waterproof, it’s wholesome, and it’s soooo so good for you.  I love how it smells when it’s fresh and how it tastes sweet when it is grown in healthy, organic soil.  When my bunny Astro was alive, we shared bundle after bundle of kale and both of us considered it to be one of our favourite vegetables (my most favourite vegetable in the world is the green bean… I think I’ve already mentioned that before though).  The farmers at Moss St. Market (in Victoria BC), used to sell several varieties of kale and would always ask how Astro was doing.  I loved that they appreciated feeding me and my bunny, and that it warmed their hearts to do so.  Actually, in truth it’s a real turn off when farmers aren’t interested in my pet or the fact that their vegetables nourish her.  Recently I was explaining excitingly to a farmer, that Glee’na loves her green beans and swiss chard, and the farmer didn’t seem much to care.  (Boooooo… wrong response.)  The woman acted as if I was explaining in excruciating detail how I fold my socks, in contrast to how I fold my towels, and I felt offended.  Geeeez,  obviously I was paying the highest compliment that one could give, since my #1 rottweiler is a happy harbour seal and any fabulous Dog Mama knows, that this is important-o. Anyhoo, the past is behind us, so back to the topic of kale!

It’s surprising how many people have never even heard of kale, let alone tried it.  For several years now, it has been a normal item in almost every supermarket and usually the stores offer both an organic and non-organic option.  (True, the organic kale is usually from California and it’s a bummer they can’t just stock a local Island variety… and on that note,  I’m still trying to figure out redundant trade deals, as I find the concept to be completely bizarre.)  Kale is still off the food-radar of most folks.  Why is that?  In Nanaimo, it’s impossible to find kale (and collard greens for that matter) at the Farmer’s Markets and I was told that “it’s not in season”.  Huh?  I have kale growing from seed in my pathetic garden and I recall getting it all year in Victoria.  I’m not sure what the story is in this city, but nonetheless I need my daily greens and these day I have been relying solely on swiss chard.  So out of teamwork and inspiration, my friend Guy passed along another yummy recipe.  This one is called:

Kale of Champions!

Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale, stems removed, leaves ripped into bite sized pieces (Swiss chard, collard greens, or broccoli also will work)
1/4 cup of soy sauce (tamari or Bragg’s is even better, but regular soy will do)
1/4 cup of rice vinegar (I’ve used other vinegars, but rice vinegar works best)
1 tsp of sesame oil
1 small piece of fresh ginger, chopped (1 tsp of powdered ginger will also do the trick)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp of chili flakes

Instructions:

Steam or sauté kale. Mix all other ingredients together. When kale is cooked and drained, pour sauce over and eat.

Done!

So again, I have the honour of sharing a solid recipe.  To my sauce, I added a tsp of miso and honey, because I’m feeling like a virus is attacking me and I wanted some killer health to combat it.  Also, I didn’t have much kale (I picked what I had from my silly plot) and so my mix was 1:1 kale to swiss chard (which I have loads of).  This is truly a delicious way to eat your leafy greens and Guy says you can do this with any vegetable (as mentioned in the recipe), because this recipe is really about the sauce.  Good sauce = good food… we all know that!  Also, I served my kale mix-up with rice and cut-up veggie breakfast patties.  Of course, you could use serve kale with lots of things, but I needed some rice and a vegetable protein to get on with this “cold” that I’m arguing with.  My supper was tasty, completely filling and totally nourishing.

I’m really trusting Guy’s taste for food, as it is very similar to mine.   When he posted this last night, I asked again for permission to blog about it and he agreed.  So this is a real treat for me, to be able to cook a recipe that a friend really, really likes, because it fills me with the positive qualities of sharing and sharing food is worthy and intelligible.  It makes good sense to eat together, even if it can’t always be at the same table.  When we live far away from one another, we can still experience meals together, by participating in recipe sharing and other such things.  My hope is that we try not to let distance stop us from eating and connecting with the people we care about (including Jamie Oliver… hahaha, hence my extensive collection of his cookbooks!).  Food is at the very basic level of needs and I think it’s paramount to our well-being.  Just like friendship.  And dogs that love green beans.

Today I am feeling “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton.  Overnight the weather turned from hot, dry, blinding sunshine to wet, drippy, cold puddles.  The reality of relocating is setting in, the stress of work continually tightens, and my back is awfully achy.  You know the mood I’m talking about?   You know when you’re in that mood and you just know that you need to take care of yourself, but you’re not sure how?  You also know that food will play some role in this healing, because it always does, doesn’t it?  Thus the term, “comfort food”.

It is very common to reach out to fill our bellies when we need comfort.  Some people turn to soft bread or rich chocolate or silky yogurt or salty chips or sugary sweets.  Some turn to water or milk or juice or shakes or tea or alcohol or pot or benzos.  Some crave cake or beef gravy or cheesy pasta or fried chicken or super salad or a fresh sandwich.  And me, I crave soup.  Not just any soup though, I want nourishing lentil soup.  I want the smooth broth, the tender lentils, the sweet and sourness, and the careful seasonings.   I want to feel the way it digests, so slow and warm in my belly.   And then I the assurance that when I’m hungry again, it awaits over-abundant in the pot, ready to be scooped out.

Truthfully, there must be hundreds of lentil soups recipes out there.  Lentils are such amazing little dots that are so versatile, inexpensive, and healthy.  Plus, they’re completely fuss free, quiet in their tiny cupboard space, non-addictive, and practically immortal.   Chicka chicka, no wonder so many people eat them!

This recipe I cut-and-pasted (with permission) from Guy Duke’s facebook page, specifically from his Notes section.   So without further ado…Ta DA!… introducing…

Guy’s Not-So-Secret-Anymore Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

1 medium yellow onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 large bunch of cilantro
1 tbsp of grated ginger
2 limes
3 lime leaves (optional)
3 cardamom pods (optional)
3 tbsp. of curry powder
3 tbsp. of cumin
3 tbsp. of ground coriander seed
1 big can of diced tomatoes
2 cans of coconut milk
1 liter of vegetable broth
2-3 tbsp. of olive oil
3 cups of red lentils (French lentils work well, too)
½ cup of honey
2 tsp. of curry paste (I like green, but red and yellow will work just fine)
1 bottle of dark beer (optional)
salt

Instructions:

Chop onion, garlic, and grate ginger; sauté in olive oil at medium heat. Add curry paste, cook for 1 minute. Add 1tbsp. each of curry powder, coriander seed and cumin. Cook for another minute. Chop cilantro. Add vegetable broth, coconut milk, tomatoes, cilantro, honey, lime leaves, cardamom and another tbsp each of curry, coriander and cumin and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add lentils, lime juice, beer, and yet more curry, coriander and cumin (use your taste buds to decide here). Cook until lentils are mushy. Add salt to taste. Serve with bread (naan, baguette or what have you) and beer (or ginger beer for those not inclined to boozin’ it up). Feel free to adjust any amount as you see fit. For more spice, add more curry. For a creamier taste, add more coconut milk. Thicker or thinner? Adjust lentil amount.

End

This recipe was really fun to make and the prep for it took hardly anytime at all.  Just reading it over quickly, it might seem like it would take awhile to prepare, but really it’s quick and once it’s done, you just relax and let it simmer.  Your whole house (or your apartment, as in my case) will fill with the most showy smell of comfort and I bet all your cooking clothes will too.  My shirt smells delicious!

Honestly, I didn’t tweak this recipe very much, other than I added a bit more ginger (just because I was feeling the need for ginger-magic), I added a light beer (I didn’t have a dark one kicking around), and as well, I used Indian Curry Paste, just because I wanted to.  (No other reason really.)  In short, this recipe is golden.

I have a bowl of it beside me right now, as I’m typing this, and it’s totally distracting me.  It’s just so darn marvelous!  Sitting there all steamy and yellow… YUM YUM!  The flavours are absolutely brilliant and in one word (another rip-off from Guy): Huzzah!

This is my beautiful friend Leah, who tomorrow begins the adventure of following her heart to Saskatoon to attend the Education Program at University of Saskatchewan.  She officially departs the island in the morning and already I miss her.

Leah and I have known each other for the last couple of years and she was my confidant when I was going through the MOST MISERABLE EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE.  That is, when I was completing my Bachelor of Education and fulfilling the requirements for my BC Teaching Certificate.  She was an Educational Assistant for the school where I was placed and thank goodness, I got to be with her everyday.  Oh and I assured Leah that her experience will be far superior to mine, first off because she is going to a different University than I did and as well, because she’s returning home to learn from her family, Elders and Community.  This is a great opportunity for her, for sure.  My experience was a completely different thing and although I despised the program, I have no regrets about it all.  I shared that with her too.

When Leah arrived early this afternoon, she was a bit hung over from drinking Sexy Sangria’s and I, from consuming Transcontinental Gin and Tonics.  She said she was hungry and wanted a sandwich.  Specifically, the request was “something fresh”.  **A slight interruption: I will take the opportunity right now to share that Nanaimo BC will NOT poke your culinary buttons and will NOT knock your edible cage.  The restaurant experience in this town really stinks, especially if you’ve spent a decade in Victoria BC (like I did), where food reigns… or better yet, RULES!** Anyway, I had to really think and focus past the fuzz of my brined brain to properly host Ms. Leah, I mean FML, this is the last time I’m gonna see her for a while.  Finally after much deliberation, I remembered this place on the downtown strip called “Mon Petit Choux Bakery & Cafe” (they don’t even have a website, so I can’t link it) and because I had good bread from there once, I figured this might do.

Leah chose a seat by the window and we wasted no time sorting through the menu.  And wouldn’t you know it?  There were lots of lovely, fresh sandwiches!  Perfect!

Leah ordered a fancy BLT and I ordered a roast beef with brie and garlic aioli.  We decided against the side salad (I inquired and it was that typical organic crap in-a-bag from California (whyyyy? when we have so many local farms in Nanaimo… whyyyy?) and opted instead for a coffee for Leah and double espresso for me.  For dessert we shared a delicious peach mousse item (I can’t remember it’s exact name, something like “Peach Bomb” or something) and that was absolutely delicious.

After our chow down, her and I walked around Westwood Lake and picked a few salah berries for Glee’na.  We talked and talked and advised and advised each other, and I felt close to her.  She explained to me the term “Karage” as she learned it from a new roommate.  Simply defined, Karage is “…the experience we have when we are in a moment with another. In this case, it’s an intimate exchange of two people. What karage does is encapsulates the emotion and mood of this exchange. It gives freedom by un-labeling it.”

Deep thanks for karage Leah and safe travels my friend 🙂

I thought at some point I should include in my blog, a sample of what my dog Glee’na eats.  It seems to fit, considering out of the two of us, she’s much more food driven than I.  As well, this site is named after her and thus, she deserves a shout out.

Recently I switched Glee’na’s diet from a high quality kibble to a raw meat/steamed vegetable diet.  It was sort of accidental how it happened, but I’m very happy with it and I’m not sure I would go back to dry dog food again (unless of course we’re traveling).

Really it all started in June when Glee’na had knee surgery and I needed to prepare both her and I for her recovery which is ~18 weeks (but because she is a big dog, it’s more like 24 weeks).  This means assisting her up the stairs, keeping her on a leash whenever we’re outside, walks that are no longer than 20 minutes long, twice weekly rehab swims and once monthly vet visits.  She is doing very well and so far her scar is healing as expected.  Going back a bit further, before her surgery, I had to get her weight down as she was 10 lbs over what was healthy.  The poor girl couldn’t do much though, so it was a challenge.

Part of this challenge included reducing her caloric intake, but not starving her.  I started to mix up pumpkin mix with peas and beans (both high in protein), swiss chard or spinach, and apples or blueberries.  I found myself looking forward to doing this every Sunday and realized that I loved preparing her food.  I felt much more in control of her diet and I liked that I knew exactly what she was getting.  Plus she thought it was awesome, because she loves fresh vegetables.  At this time I mixed this concoction with her kibble (the kibble amount was reduced by 1/3), but I wanted to eliminate that as well.

I researched the raw food/vegetable/fruit diet for about a month and kind of got nowhere.  There is so much conflicting information online and everyone has their opinions.  I read everything from it being the end-all diet to a slow, deadly poison.  I was pretty frustrated too, because her vet wasn’t offering anything information either.  I realized during that process how entrenched we are in the “Kibble World”.  I hadn’t really noticed that before and I was shocked that I hadn’t given it much thought until this point.  What was I feeding my dog and was it really better than whole food?  Logically, of course it wasn’t.  YES, it was waaaaaay more convenient, but certainly processed food has NEVER been healthier than the real deal… think Kraft Dinner, etc.  It dawned on me, that it was like feeding her really healthy organic cereal, instead of oatmeal… or something like that.  Anyway, you’re following right?

As it always happens, I finally found a knowledgeable person (named Helga) who kindly took a few hours to phone me up and explain everything to me.  I took 4 pages of notes and rewrote the really messy parts after we hung up.  She too has a Rottweiler, who is similar in stature to Glee’na (Glee’na is very barrel-chested, as she is a German rotti, rather than an American one) and so she was able to offer everything from portion size to important supplements.  Plus she pointed me in the direction of a reasonably priced meat distributor, that wasn’t going to break the bank.

Today Glee’na is a very excited, well fed doggie.  The transition was seamless (some dogs experience the runs, etc), she loves her food THAT MUCH MORE, she has more energy than before (which is hard to believe) and her poops are much, much smaller (plus they break down within a couple of days… bye bye needless waste).  Finally, the diet is exactly the same cost as her kibble and I am assured that I’m providing the best food for her.  Everything is still organic and grain-fed, and of course that makes me happy too.

Happy Glee’na, happy mama.


Okay, so at my work I’m part of the social committee and every month we host a potluck, along with a birthday cake celebration.  (Honestly up until this month, I had never attended any of them before and felt somewhat bad about it, sort of.)  I think it’s fair to say that these days we are up against some serious challenges and staff morale has been touch-and-go for the last couple of months.  Because these food celebrations are voluntary and because fewer and fewer people are attending, I decided to “theme” the potluck.  Of course, I’m not genius at this, so I consulted the internet.  In fact, I googled almost word for word, “potluck themes”.

The theme that really grabbed me was the “Dish with the First Letter of Your Name” theme.  There were many more themes, but they sounded too involved and the goal was to bring us together, not make us work harder than we already are.  Plus, there was an awesome online recipe reference, as to make the whole decision process THAT MUCH easier!

Long story short, we did it and it was fun!  The dishes that were presented were really neat and we had a good laugh talking about the process.  Some folks didn’t end up making what they had intended, some folks didn’t realize there was a theme and some folks actually cooked, instead of purchased.  Hahaha… but no matter, the point was to bring us together.  Mission accomplished.

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