Archive for December, 2012

Idle no more?

Posted in just opinionated, Not an activist, Rants with tags , , on December 29, 2012 by idnami

Because I live in the very specific bubble that I live in, in some ways my perception of things isn’t any clearer than that of people who get all their news from Fox.

I don’t get my news from anywhere specific. When I read multiple references to a story on Facebook I eventually Google it. Considering what I know about the ethics of mainstream journalism I never know what sources to trust. So I read a bunch of sources and try to piece it together.

I’ve learned that everyone is biased to their cause. I’ve seen multiple posts stating, “As of December 4 there were (widely variable and increasingly large number of) protected lakes and rivers. On December 5 there were (alarmingly small number). I’m not saying that something seriously goddamn alarming isn’t happening here, I’m saying the information on either side can be misleading.

But that isn’t the point at all.

The point is that something really amazing is happening. Round dances in malls, highway blockades and a hunger strike on the steps of Parliament. It’s amazing in its beauty and it’s happening because something really goddamn alarming is happening.

Fucking Harper. That guy just keeps getting scarier. I see that Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan has offered to meet with Chief Spence, despite the fact that Chief Spence is making a very specific request to speak to a very specific group of people. Now I get that you just can’t insist on talking to a Very Busy Man like Stephen Harper, at Christmastime no less, just because you take issue with his sneaking in of drastic and potentially catastrophic changes to policies that affect the entire country.  Again. If we could the guy would get no sleep at all.

Was that snarky? Whatever. Anyway, I remember reading about Attawapiskat this time last year. They were in a state of emergency for months and no one came to help. I’ve heard some cynical comments that their predicament was their own fault. But I do wonder if, say, Turner Valley were in the same predicament, fault would have meant those people not being aided?

I also wonder if a massive toxic spill beneath a school house could be classified as their own fault.

We have a lot of racist attitude in this enlightened country of ours. Like it or not, we all have our biases. So do they (by “they” I mean whoever we happen to be biased against) of course and this all makes for a big miscommunicative clusterfuck. But you name me one other racial, cultural of geographical group that can be totally abused and neglected without some bleeding heart roaring about it.

I hear people saying, “They should integrate!” In the case of any immigrating group I agree wholeheartedly. You chose to come here pal. Learn the language, don’t drag your country’s problems along with you and don’t expect the laws and customs to change just because you decided to move here instead of somewhere else. Except of course that we (We being the European ancestors of fouth-genners like myself) didn’t do that ourselves. We showed up, took what we wanted and said “Fuck those guys! This is gonna be a Christian land!” (By Christian I mean racist, classist, opportunist, capitalist, environmentally irresponsible spoiled megalomaniacs, I guess.)

I really have to learn to focus. Anyway, what I’m saying that of all the people to whom we could reasonably say, “Integrate!” to, it’s pretty laughable to do it to the people whose way of life you bulldozed to make room for yours. But we keep doing it, from metal cook pots and whiskey to residential schools all the way up to polluting treaty lands and fucking with the justice system to marginalize those people even more. It’s like we figure if we ignore them they will eventually go our way or go away.

They aren’t about to go away. They are the fastest growing population in Canada at the moment. We like to present them as a dying culture but they are not.

I also don’t see them going our way, do you? Those who haven’t preserved their traditional culture seem lost and it is largely the lost ones that we see in the streets of our cities and base our lofty judgements upon. Or perhaps those few of us who have bothered to do slightly more research can tell us, “We keep throwing money at them and they keep squandering it!” So popular perception paints them as hopeless drunks and addicts or avaricious idiots who don’t even know how to make proper use of their ill-gotten gains.

Now lets consider for a moment that they don’t want to integrate. Who would? They also realize that we aren’t about to pack up en masse and let them get back to doing things their way. So there they are, stuck between their own way of life which is in many ways dying out thanks to over 200 years of interference and bullying, and ours which is repugnant to them and many of us quite frankly. Should they really be asked to sacrifice all that they still hold sacred and embrace the earth destroying machine?

This brings me back to the point I started out on. For Theresa Spence this has moved way beyond Attawapiskat. And this is what I think (conjecture, I haven’t asked her personally) is the real reason why Chief Spence refuses to meet with John Duncan. She hasn’t been starving herself for over two weeks in the hopes of getting some decent heating and plumbing for one town. John Duncan is pretty irrelevant to what she wants now. I think this is about making us all aware that it can’t be us and them anymore.

We don’t need the intermediary of an Aboriginal Affairs minister. We need to look each other in the eye. We need to acknowledge that we have given these people no tools for successful “intergration” with the culture we’ve forced on them nor have we made it even remotely possible. Racism against our native population is ingrained and widely considered acceptable in so many ways that we aren’t even aware that we are doing it. We have a nation in crisis, spiritually and materially and yet some people have the gall to state that Chief Spence’s concerns are unworthy of the direct attention of a man who once said, “You have been working on recovering from this experience for a long time and in a very real sense, we are now joining you on this journey. The Government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the Aboriginal peoples of this country for failing them so profoundly.

Fine words, Harper. In what very real sense are you joining in this journey when you fail to respond to a nationwide movement clamouring for true change and justice?

The First Nations people have wisdom we really need to listen to. If we don’t we are going to destroy ourselves. It may very well be that if we (European culture) could quietly destroy ourselves without taking them (Original people of this continent) down with us, they might just let us do it. I mean maybe not. Maybe they are way more forgiving than we would ever be of such a contemptuous oppressor. But they are drawing a line at the threat to whatever number of sacred waters our current legislation now threatens.

So I’m thinking, and I think Spence is thinking, the solution is not to ignore them or throw money at them, but to talk to them and fucking listen to them. Include them in the decision making processes of our country. Because if we want the right to tell them to integrate we need to integrate some of their values too.

My main point I guess is that very few people in this country are being included in the making of decisions which affect not only us but our descendants. And that the one culture for whom the preservation of the land for future generations is a priority are being disrespected and ignored. And that we all need to stand up for our right to be heard. And that Stephen Harper is an evil, soulless robot (is it possible to be evil without in fact having a soul? No, but in his case I feel an exception can be made) who needs a good spanking, a non-confidence vote and a competent replacement with the best interest of all Canadians in mind, in that order.

Idle no more? I really hope so, you guys. Not like I have any idea what to do about it personally mind you. But no one deserves to create a peaceful revolution in this country more than the First Nations do.


Winterfeast leftover soup

Posted in Recipes with tags , , , on December 27, 2012 by idnami

I know I promised magic next but I have leftovers to deal with. Besides, in my kitchen especially, cooking is magic. So there.
Despite my essential Scrooginess and cynical attitude toward all things Christmas I do love any opportunity to show off my cooking skills and make a giant mess of my kitchen. In honour of this I have re-dubbed Dec 25 as “Winterfeast.” This is a holiday that can be wholeheartedly embraced by anyone other than dieters. No religious associations, no obligatory gifts, no tacky crap cluttering up the house. Just good friends and family and the delicious smells of things being cooked using far too much butter.
I was dumb enough to leave my dinner shopping til the last minute. Fondly imagining that everyone else in the world has it way more together than me and that I could do my grocery shopping in leisurely peace, I strolled into Safeway at about 1 pm December 24 to find ravening hordes of shoppers desperately swarming around the dwindling supply of turkeys. It was hard even to get near the birds and when I finally did fight my way close enough I realized that there wasn’t a single turkey under 15 pounds in the display. At that point I had only invited 3 people, one of them a 4 year old, to dinner. I considered asking the meat counter guys if they had any smaller turkeys hiding anywhere, but upon getting rammed multiple times by shopping carts I just grabbed the smallest one I saw (6.25 kg $35) and got the hell out of there.
Hmmm, I said to myself, That is one fuckload of turkey. I invited a few more people and decided I would just make soup out of what was left.
There is a lot left.
So, for the edification of my readers, here is my fabulous soup making method which I have been refining for over a decade. It works with chicken too.
Now, first of all it is essential to mention that in order to properly roast any cut of meat you need dry heat and lots of basting. Shrouding the thing in tinfoil to preserve moisture and save effort is not only lazy, it is simply wrong. If you do this you are not roasting your turkey, you are steaming it, relying on water rather than fat to keep the breast from getting dry. What you need is fat, not water. Fat does not evaporate and circulate within the tin foil covering, water does. Water is not flavourful. Fat is. Steaming negatively affects the texture and flavour of your final results, not to mention depriving you of the interactive experience of getting off your ass every 20 minutes or so to baste it. Yes, I said every 20 minutes. It’s easy so just shut up and do it. This will result in a beautifully caramelized, crispy, dark golden brown skin and breast meat that melts in your mouth with a rich flavour. It’s damn good and really, why waste $35 on a bird if you don’t want to put in the effort to make it the best it can be?
Ok, that is my lecture on roasting. Here is how to make soup from the tasty remains of your perfectly roasted turkey. Mine was goddamn delicious, by the way.
Step 1: Debone.
Don’t remove every last bit of meat from the bones, only what will come off in decent sized pieces. Leave lots of nice meaty bits clinging to the bones. Set aside the meat to be chopped up and put in soup later. But make at least one sandwich because turkey sandwiches are delicious.
Step 2: Roast that shit.
Put your turkey carcass back in the roasting pan and chuck it in a preheated 450 oven til everything turns nice and brown, about 30 min. This will give a stronger flavour and nice colour to the stock.
Step 3: Stock.
Whenever I cut veggies for anything I take all the ends you would normally discard and put them in a Ziplock bag in my freezer. Onion skins, carrot tops, celery ends, parsley stems etc. You don’t want to eat them for texture reasons but they have lots of flavour and nutrients and are great for stockmaking because anything you use for making stock gets strained out and discarded anyway.
If you haven’t done this, chop up some carrots, onions and celery. Garlic is optional but makes everything better obviously. After allowing your carcass to cool (hah!) stick it in your stock pot with the veg and fill with water. Don’t worry about using too much water because your stock will reduce as it simmers. You may need to add more water as you go.
It is important to let the carcass cool first because you want all your solids to begin at the same temperature as the water for the best extraction. Put your stock pot on the stove on high and bring to a boil. As soon as it is boiling reduce the heat til there are still bubbles rising slowly, prop the lid so it covers the pot halfway and simmer as long as possible. I usually go for around 8 hours. This is the part where you can more or less ignore it for long periods. Check every now and then to make sure there is at least enough water to cover the bones and add more if not. I usually add my herbs near the end so they don’t get bitter. Thyme, sage, rosemary, tarragon. Yum. throw a little salt in there too, now that you are done reducing and concentrating the stock. And fresh ground pepper.
Step 4: Strain.
Ok, this is very important. DO NOT allow the stock to cool at all before straining. Strain it as soon as you have turned the heat off, otherwise it will taste fishy and weird. Use a wire strainer and strain it into a second stockpot. Use the bowl of a ladle to squish the remaining liquid out of the strainer contents as the best flavours are in the liquid that gets trapped in there. Wait for all the solids to cool and throw them out. They aren’t even good for compost at this point. I usually strain it a second time through cheesecloth to get rid of any sediment.
Step 5: Cool and degrease.
that’s a lot of steps eh? We are almost done.
Let your strained stock cool down to room temp and then refrigerate. When the stock is refrigerator cold all the fat will have solidified at the top and can be easily removed with a slotted spoon. Th stock will probably be gelatinous which is good because gelatin is full of good shit and makes you feel better when you are sick. Plus it is fun to jiggle. Jiggle it! Fun huh? Ah, the rewards of soup making. Gelatinous poultry stock is like bubble wrap for the soul.
Step 6: Reheat and assemble.
Another benefit of cooling your stock is it allows the flavours to blend. Soups always taste better if cooled and reheated. There’s science behind that somewhere but don’t ask me what. I just know it to be true.
Chop up your meat, veg (carrots, celery, parsnips, onions, cabbage, whatever) and toss it in. I like to add wild rice too but I usually cook it separately so it doesn’t hog up all the liquid in the pot. Simmer slowly until veggies are tender, 30-40 min.
Step 7: Eat it!
Have some good seedy bread and a nice fresh salad on the side. Put some in Tupperware and bring it to a friend with a cold. Freeze some and defrost it when YOU have a cold. It’s good.
You can also stop at step 5 and freeze the stock on its own for use in later soups, cooking rice etc. Measure into small Ziplock freezer bags so it stays flat and stacks nicely in the freezer and so you have exact portions ready to go. I usually do 2 cups per bag.
I am going to do this right now!

Where is the apocalypse I ordered?

Posted in Rants with tags , on December 22, 2012 by idnami

I’m a little disappointed that there was no apocalypse after all. I’m not getting into tiresome end of the world jokes here, that was actually a (kind of) serious statement.

This is not to say that I really felt that fighting zombies or running futilely away from a giant asteroid would have been the best uses of my time yesterday. However part of me has always wanted to see what would happen to our complacent, stodgy North American society if shit got suddenly real.

I mean come on, we are still living in a world where we can seriously debate a woman’s right to choose whether or not she bears a child to that douchebag she ill-advisedly had sex with after one too many tequila shots. People still have to fight for the right to be with the person they love. It is a huge crisis if we can’t get our snotty teenagers the latest superphone for Christmas. Like seriously people, can we not evolve already? Get a little perspective?

I can't believe that barista put 2% in my latte when I clearly ordered soy.

I can’t believe that barista put 2% in my latte when I clearly ordered soy.

I think Tim Minchin said it best:

Millions of kids in starving nations
Living their life with no Playstations
AIDS and war, no vaccinations
Living their life with no Playstations

If all the kids in Africa had broadband and a Playstation three
It might not solve their problems but by jove it would make them happy
It would surely take their minds off clean water and rice
Getting to shoot donut eating American kids in their big fat faces
With fuck-off plasma guns
Happy little Africuns

Now I am also not going to beak off about “the things that really matter.” I’m not going to tell you what your priorities should be. What the fuck do I know about that? I tried doing that last year when I was blogging for Occupy and maybe one person took half a second to question their rampant, unthinking consumerism before going back to watching TV and getting a hardon for whatever gimmicky must-have products were parading across their screen at the time. I have no idea.

I have no idea what makes people give more of a damn about interfering with the happy relationships of others simply because they are offended by the gender ratio than treating their own loved ones decently. I have no idea where anybody gets the money to buy all this pointless obligatory shit for Christmas. I’ve stepped aside from all of that to the point where I am way out of touch with what I’m supposed to buy my snotty teenage nieces and nephews for Christmas. Does this mean I think zombies are the answer? Maybe.

Holy fuck my train of thought is a little extra fractal today eh? Ok try to stay with me on this, though I’m having trouble keeping up with myself at this point and I have no idea what I’m about to say next. Isn’t that exciting?

Ok, zombies, giant asteroids, super volcanoes. These are things I sometimes think would be preferable to seeing one more poster about how God Hates Fags or graphic anti-abortion propaganda or riot at Best Buy. And this is not because I think we would all be better off dead, that isn’t what I’m getting at. But I think it would do us all some good to have a drastic reminder that we are vulnerable little animals in a fucking huge universe and that humans are capable of amazing things when in serious danger of being eaten.

Also, I would do just about anything to witness Stephen Harper being eaten by a zombie. That would be so awesome. I would turn zombie myself for the chance to bite that guy’s head, honest to god, and I am highly phobic of being turned into a zombie.

But here we are, December 22 and not one zombie anywhere. Not one tiny hurricane or earthquake. Not even the grateful sense of a narrowly averted disaster to shock some consciousness into our media numbed heads. And that sucks.

While I appreciate the irony of ad links being force-inserted into this post, I don’t like it a bit.

Next topic… MAGIC! Stay tuned.