For you, the dress code is casual.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Broke-Ass Black Bean-Corn-Tomato Soup

This is heart-smart, low-fat, spicy, goes a long ways, and is cheap as HELL to make.

$1.19 for my tomatoes, $0.89 for the corn, and $1.69 for the black beans, large onion $0.35. Total: $4.12. Serves 6. Yeah. That'll save your paycheque. It's basically like chili without the beef -- or the four hours of simmering.

(The recipe is from one of Anne Lindsay's healthy cookbooks popular here in Canada, except I actually SEASON it. :) Mine's medium-hot, so adjust seasoning accordingly.

1 large sweet onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil

Saute onion in a stockpot or Dutch oven until translucent or golden, then add:

1 tablespoon hot Mexican chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon coriander

As it starks to stick to the pot, add 1/2 cup water and let simmer a moment. Then add:

1 can sweet corn (or 1-2 cobs shorn*, or 1.5 cups frozen)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, 28 oz.

Mix well, add enough water to make yourself happy. Splurge, if you like, and use chicken stock. I used about 2 cups of water. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the flavours are happy. Salt and pepper to taste.

If you want, puree some of the soup at the end for a nicer consistency. I pureed 1/3 of the soup and it's now a bit creamy looking, which I really like. If you want to splurge more, other ways to make it into an expensive-tasting experience: Mix 1/4 cup lime juice in right before taking it off the heat. Chop 1 cup cilantro and add at the very end. Serve with a tablespoon of sour cream.

*If you use the cobbed corn for this, or ANY soup recipe, ALWAYS throw the cob, after you've stripped it of kernels, into the soup and cook the cob in the soup till you're about to serve it. Why? The starch (CORNstarch?) helps naturally give the soup more body, plus more corn flavour. Throw the cob out at the end.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Having a Read of My Work Last Night

Oh, lord help me, it's probably going to be a long week. I hate it when it gets off to the wrong start -- like me waking up all night with stomach ickiness and all that crap.

But I feel fine-ish now, just only had 5-6 hours sleep. It'll be fine. How awake do you have to be to bus, huh?

But while I was up one of the times, for about an hour, I figured I'd reread my recent work on The Other Blog. I reread everything up until January 14th, and I can see that I've been starting to hone in on better form. Still not where I want with the writing, but it's coming along quite nicely.

Now I need to write more. I want three good postings a week on the other blog, and want to write here three times a week. That'll have me staying sharp pretty much daily.

But I enjoyed reading myself, and it's been awhile since THAT was the reaction on back-to-back pieces. It's been a few good ones in a row, whereas it's been quite a long time where I'd have one, maybe two good posts, then I'd have a filler or two in between. I don't want filler. I want fewer posts but of a higher quality.

I'm no idiot, I know when the writing's decent. But back-to-back? That's been a while. Consistency would be fantastic again. Being on the road to it? Feels great.

I would've rather had a good night's sleep, but getting the chance to re-read some stuff so I can stop creatively beating up on myself? Probably priceless.

Enjoy your Monday, folks. No rest for the wicked Canadians. Not a holiday here. Boo. [Four-day weekend for yours truly next week, though!]

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine Thoughts on Writing

Writing's like love. You want it to be fantastic and all-encompassing, you want to leave your heart on the page, and every now and then you cycle into phases where you do just that. Most of the time, though, you lapse into surfacing. Saying barely what should be said, and flailing at the words you do manage to spill. The time you spend is forced, not desired. It's obligatory, not inspiring.

Writing requires work. It's not this fabelled "gift" people speak of. "Oh, you're a writer. You're so lucky. I wish I could be a writer." Uh-huh. And if wishes were horses, friend.

I have fallen out with writing. I need to rekindle the love affair. Find what it is that drew me to it. Forget about the pressures that I have around me to do it, and rediscover the love I have for being in That Zone when it should oh-so-infrequently make its way to me.

Writing, in many ways, became merely a survival mechanism over the last three years. It's funny, I'm not sure which has shaped me more as a woman, the death of my mother, or the last three years. Both have been hard as hell. Either way, I stand now on the other side.

I don't need writing as a survival mechanism now. What I need is it to be more. I need for me to feel compelled to write. To have words of all kinds bursting beneath my skin. To itch for the clackety-clack of my ideas becoming reality on a screen before me. THAT, I want.

So now I'm at that point where I realize "waiting" for it to happen is resulting in, well, just lots more waiting.

Now, grunt, comes the work. Now comes forcing myself to just sit and spill. Now I guess the writing becomes more about who it is I've become. The question is, who is that? I'm still not really sure.

Funnily, I probably have more sense of self than most, but it's perhaps that very thing that makes me feel so adrift at sea right now. I know myself, have always known myself, so well that I find myself frequently at a loss. Because who I am now feels different -- not just mentally or spiritually, but now physically different -- all the time. Like, last night, sitting down on a crowded bus and realizing my ass wasn't touch either person on my right or left. For the first time in literally decades.

I'm not complaining, no, I'm just confused. I'm different. And I'm still changing. Trying to assess who I am *now* is like measuring the temperature of water on a scorcher of a day at 10am. You could, but in 2 hours it'll be pointless information, won't it? Yet, it's interesting for a time.

That's why this blog has become more a record of me in the moments as I keep shifting towards the new me. Whatever else a blog is, first and foremost it's supposed to be a "web log".

But you know what?

I'm not worried about it. Writing's going to explode for me, it always does. I know I have a lot to say. I'm just not sure what it is right now. The clarity will come. That always does, too.

I am very optimistic about the year ahead. The only thing is, this time I *KNOW* how much I did last year, so I've kind of got that mentality you get after you've climbed a mountain? You KNOW you can do it, but you've NO illusions about how hard it all was.

Heh. I blew my BACK out because I did so much last year. Granted, it's because the hip that caused it was injured a number of years ago and I'd never healed it properly, but still. :) It was a big year.

This year daunts me. It's also egging me on a little, too. It'll be fantastic. So will falling in love with writing again. I'll make it happen.

I always do. :)

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Photographs from my English Bay Bike Ride


I skipped out of work today to reboot my soul a little. I worked 5 and a bit hours, and had a bit of a bike ride before and after. Stuck to level lands, but got 20km in. It's conditioning phase. My cardio sucks right now. Strength though? Hills are gonna be a whole lot easier this year, baby. Once I've gotten some cardio on tap again, that is.

Still. I'm doing all right. 

But I went west towards Stanley Park, to what would be the very end of the ride around the park, but I went the "illegal" way because I'm a rebel. (The sea wall starts out one-way heading into the east, around the north side, and then heading southeast again. I hit the southeastern corner and rode west.)

I'm gonna try to start blogging more, but I suspect it'll come on its own. I always write more around March. Bear with me. I'm kinda living in my head a bit these days.

It's simpler sometimes. :)

Here we go.

This is the start of English Bay, right near the Burrard Bridge. You can see the faint low-lying vapour fog that's bound to build tonight. 

I like observing people at the beach. People draw so much from the ocean. You can almost see it happening before your eyes. I like people with character, too, like this obviously robust curmudgeon of a fellow.

Sunset, duh. It's setting almost directly south now, but swoops totally north, to the right of the mountain range in the top picture, by summer solstice. Knowing where the sun rises and sets at any given time of the year can really influence where you should be in order to get the right shot at the right place. So, this means there are places you should mentally bookmark to photograph at its sunset-optimal time of year. For sunsets specifically, you'd shoot the south side of Stanley Park (aka English Bay) in December to March, the west side from March to May and September to November, and the north from June to September. See?

Ditto. Sunset. Same stretch.

The fog doesn't really show here, which disappoints me, but I still like the shots. The lines in the clouds just blow me away, and it's one of those linear compositions my college photography teacher would've gobbled up with a spoon -- nom-nom-nom!

HEY, LOOK. It's a sunset!

One of those spontaneous stranger photos that's 110% luck and timing. I had both. I quite love this spirit. But they're young, it's what you do. 

I love ocean foreshore, but it never looks right in photography. Sunset and low tide, it seems, helps. :)