Making Bread

   I’ve gotten into making my own bread recently. I’m not that interested in baking sweets and sweet breads but I’ve been wanting to learn how to make my own healthy whole wheat breads for soups, sandwiches and the like. Among things I’ve bakes recently is this whole wheat sandwich bread (recipe from veganbaking.net), a multi-grain bread made with Red River cereal and some other seeds and grains, a quick bread, and english muffins (plain whole wheat and whole wheat with raisins). I think I’ve finally been able to make a decent paratha to have with my curries, soft but not doughy, cooked through but not dry and stiff; I think the key was proper temperature control. I enjoy making bread, for some reason working the dough with my hands is really satisfying. It just seems so wholesome and good (eating it too).

I also went to a show in Collingwood. It was my first time going to a show in Collingwood, and first show and almost a year. Grey Kingdom and Baby Eagle played, they were enjoyable but it was a weird experience overall. There were a good number of people there but they were just there to drink as opposed to see the performers, who were well aware that I was the only person there to see them. It was kind of awkward but it provides a good opportunity to talk to the people in the bands. And I bought my ticket for Youth of Today, stoked for that but also kind of worried I’ll be disappointed.

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Thoughts On The Election

I wanted to say something about the election, but since the weather has been so great I’ve been trying to stay away from the computer and spend lots of time outside. There are many issues or events I have opinions on, but I think what I dwelled most upon and what I most want to say is this: that upon returning from the polling station I felt tarnished, that I have compromised my integrity. No matter what I do with my ballot I or what the results are I feel this way. Should I be legitimizing a system that requires me to forfeit the making of the decisions that effect my life and are important to me to another person? So that for four years some person I have not met, who doesn’t share my views can do whatever they want in my name. Is the modest reform that could potentially be the result of my vote make it worth granting weight and legitimacy to the undesirable outcome of the vote, as they are all undesirable, just some more than others. Sure we can appeal to them during their terms, but doing so seems the equivalent of begging for change. Our current mode of government is not fair, just, or moral. I believe it to be the right of all people to directly make the decisions that affect their lives both in the political and economic spheres, and not through some unwieldy institution of representation that has the effect of shaping the public view to reflect itself, distorting our voices, and turning people against one another. Many say we can do no better, this is the best we can have. But there are choices and people have made them before, from Catalonia to Chiapas. The exact details of what society could become cannot be described now, as they will arise only through the cooperative process itself. The ends is the means, and the means the end. We can certainly do better than being mere partisans, capitalists, consumers, or other cogs in the machine. We haven’t reached the end of history.

So in brief, that is how I felt about the election. I hope it makes good food for thought.

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Pad Thai

 After quite a bit of experimentation I have been able to make what I think is a decent pad thai. Over various attempts I changed a number of things, noodles, sauce, ingredients etc. It’s not completely authentic but after looking at many recipes I used what I think are the best alternatives. I used white vinegar in place of tamarind, whole wheat fettuccine instead of rice noodles (they have a heavier taste/texture than rice noodles, I found when I used rice noodles, it turned into a gelatinous mess), parsley instead of cilantro, and instead of roasting and grinding peanuts myself I used peanut butter (the 100% peanut kind). I think adding the vinegar really improved the sauce, not stir-frying anything for too long, and having really fresh green onions, sprouts, and parsley were some of the key factors. Otherwise I have been killing some time lately foraging for apples, apples trees are everywhere around here. I have been eating them whole, cooked in oats, in salads, in apple crisps, cored and baked with sugar and spices in the middle, I even made a spaghetti sauce with shredded apple. More conventionally, I have also made apple sauce to go along with these english muffins I made the other day (vegan of course).

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Collingwood Terminal

Weather wise, the start of autumn has been off to a great start making it easy to spend lots of time outside. One place in Collingwood I enjoy going to fairly regularly is a park located on a spit of land sticking out into the bay that used to be Collingwood’s shipping terminal. A bit of background on the site, Collingwood used to be home to an industrial shipyard the operated into the 1980’s and was known for side-launching the boats built there (as opposed to the more common way of putting boats in tip-first). Adjacent to the shipyards was Collingwood Terminal where the town’s grain elevator was located. Grain would be brought in by train (Collingwood also used to have fairly large stockyards) and loaded onto ships. Like the shipyards, the stockyards are no longer but the grain elevators still stand but are no longer in use. It’s a nice place to go and kill some time, there is a decent view and hearing the waves and feeling the wind is always relaxing.

Grain Elevators

View looking southwest toward Osler Bluffs resort and the Niagara Escarpment.

Looking northeast over the Georgian Bay, Christian Island would be out of the frame to the left, Wasaga Beach out of frame to the right.

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Fall Harvest and Tomatoes Galore

This part of the year is probably the best time of year for food in Canada (this part of it anyways). I think the variety, quantity, and quality of local foods is at its peak. I also love this time of year because the days are fairly warm and mostly sunny but the nights are cool and crisp, and the leaves are just starting to change. I look forward to autumn, though I like every season.

Lately, from both my backyard garden and the one I help out at, I have been harvesting lots of tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as some various kinds of squash, hot peppers, and carrots among other things. Most of the squash and the root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, and onion I am living on the plants or in the ground because I know they’ll last for a while longer there and with the abundance of tomatoes I’ve been eating a lot of tomato dishes. Today I made a chick pea curry using an heirloom tomats and hot peppers that I picked fresh (along with various other ingredients), which I garnished with green zebra tomatoes and parsley (as a substitute for cilantro) that I also picked fresh. Instead of utensils I made whole wheat paratha and ate it with that.

  Here is a picture of a couple of the green zebra tomatoes we have growing, I had never seen them before the fruits appeared on the plants so that made them interesting. According to Wikipedia “Green Zebra was bred by Tom Wagner of Everett, Washington, and introduced in his Tater-Mater Seed Catalog in 1983. It is not an heirloom tomato, despite often being mistakenly designated as one.” They look neat and have lots of flavour too. Also picture is on of the squashes (an acorn) I picked, and the peppers. I don’t know the variety of pepper, and I haven’t tried one on it’s own but when pruning some tomatoes recently the other person I manage the garden with tried one and said it was fairly hot. The curry didn’t turn out that hot though (I used two to make two bowls of curry). I supposed I should just try one myself to see how hot they are.

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Coming to Toronto…

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Subtler Forms of Suffering

I have been wanting to post about things that are not related to food while my life isn’t that interesting something that happened to me today made me think. While this is still somewhat food related at least it is not about something I made. Today I had to take my cat to the veterinarian, the visit itself was not what got me thinking (he has a minor infection, he’ll be fine) but rather getting him there. He was fairly easy to handle but the entire time we were in the car and at the vet’s he was breathing very hard and making noises that he never makes. It was obvious that he was terrified. What this got me thinking about was the transportation of livestock. Much is made of more humane livestock rearing, grass-fed beef, painless slaughter etc. But regardless of how the animal lived it’s life, at one point it will be herded onto a packed transport, driven hundreds of kilometres in all kinds conditions, herded into a slaughter house and killed. Even if they suffer no injury as a direct result of transport there is no way the entire process is not terrifying for them. Though maybe not as extreme as the suffering endured by food animals in other aspects of their lives this is still a very real form of suffering that billions of animals are subjected to. Whether the animal was free-range, organic, or whatever, it was brought into existence solely so it can be brought to this fate, and solely to satisfy our palates. Some may say that there are greater injustices in the world than this, and even for most food animals this is not the worst they endure. But it is still significant because it is a real form of suffering that is the result of a choice we make. While we may not be able to alleviate all the world’s suffering, we can at least not add to it. And by eating meat we unnecessarily add to this suffering that is inherent to meat. In urging his followers to practice compassion for all forms of life the Buddha said “All tremble at the rod. All fear death. Comparing others with oneself, one should neither kill nor cause to kill. All tremble at the rod. Life is dear to all.” When no one would want to tremble in fear why would it be right to subject other beings to that fate, particularly for sensual satisfaction.

“No man has the power or the right to destroy the life of another as life is precious to all.”

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