Thursday, July 24, 2008


Right now, I am sitting at my table, alone. Danice is on a mission trip with her youth in France, and then in Germany, for two weeks. I miss her terribly. Lindsey is filming a month-long traditional Native canoe trek. Lynn is probably still at work, or practicing with her band. I am the lone roommate tonight.

I am trying to console myself with food. Don't worry, it's not comfort food. I'm not sitting here eating a litre of Haagen Dazs (though that does sound delicious now that I type it). I'm eating good food, food that is very good for me.

In fact, that's what I wanted to write about. My life has revolved around food as of late. I may have mentioned that I work at Jacob's Well, and I may have mentioned that we have a couple of urban gardens, nestled between a tofu factory and a sausage factory. I don't know if I mentioned that because we're not doing so well financially (ie. not receiving full paychecks), Jacob's Well has decided to give the staff a share of the gardens as part of our payment. So every week I take home a bag full of fresh green things from our Downtown Eastside gardens.

This has become a delight and a challenge. Often I find myself asking, "What is this green leaf? What is the stalk it is attached to? How should I eat it?" As we speak, there is a soup simmering on my stove. I started with my mom's "Peasant Bean Soup" recipe, and then I added a lot of things from the garden that I didn't know how else to eat. I threw in the Swiss chard. I chopped up the scapes and sauteed them and threw them in. If you don't know what a scape is, join the club. I just found out. They're these curly stems that grow out the top of garlic bulbs, and they taste like garlic, only milder. Gardeners cut them off so that the garlic will grow bigger. If you want pictures of garlic scapes and a recipe, check out my friend Emily's blog. She's good at eating well, and always makes sure to take excellent pictures of her food before consuming it.

As I sit here and eat raspberries (from the garden of course) mixed with yogurt, I will tell you more about why I've been thinking about food. A couple of weeks ago, I went on a trip, a trip called "The Gleaning Trip". Gleaning. Think Old Testament - the Israelite vineyard workers were commanded to leave some grapes on the vine for poor people to glean, and farmers were to leave the grain they dropped the first time around. I've heard interesting ideas about how we can allow for a similar gleaning practice today - like saving your coin change to give away, or setting out your bottles for bottle-collectors. But there's a group in the Okanagan that is taking gleaning very literally. They're called the Okanagan Gleaners. And every year, Jacob's Well sends a team to go serve with them for a week.

Here's what they do... they take the vegetables that orchard owners can't sell (they're small, they're weirdly shaped, they're spotted, they're rotten in one spot, etc.), and they chop them up, and they dry them in a huge dehydrator, and then they mix them all together in bags and send them overseas with YWAM and WorldVision as soup mix for orphanages and soup kitchens. They produce 5 million servings of soup a year. Isn't that incredible? Perfectly edible vegetables that would have otherwise ended up on the garbage heap are instead "gleaned" for the hungriest people on earth. I love it.

So we spent three hours every morning cutting the seeds, stems, and bad spots out of peppers, standing across from each other, talking, enjoying the fresh air... you know, your everyday feeding the hungry stuff. Every evening after supper, someone would share a reflection about the day. One day, Sheryl said she loved the way food brought us together - both around the peppers, and around the dinner table. She realized that the peppers we were holding in our hands would actually become part of other people. Seriously. I've never thought about that before - people across the world will eat the peppers in the soup mix, and their bodies will break down the food and incorporate the amino acids into their cells. Isn't that crazy? We really are what we eat.

Which means that when I help grow food in the Downtown Eastside and then eat it, I'm making the Downtown Eastside a part of my very body. That's so weird to think about. It makes me feel closer to the neighborhood. It makes me happy that we're growing good food for our friends there. It makes me excited to eat this soup.

My only problem now is dishes. They're piled up. I don't want to do them. Anyone want to come over and do my dishes? I'll give you some Garden Soup!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Summer in the Couv!

Hello, friends!

It's been a week and a half... let me catch you up, using pictures and words.

Last Sunday, Danice and I got to go boating with the Bain family. It was my first time boating on the ocean (that is probably a lie, now that I think about it... I was probably on a boat in Costa Rica or Florida once.) It was my first time boating on the ocean in the Vancouver area. I would like to do much more of this! We had a great day. It was so hot that I didn't protest when the spray hit my face. We zoomed up the Burrard Inlet and Indian Arm, and anchored by some little islands, where we swam and ate supper. Swimming in the ocean is different than lakes, you know. For one thing, in the ocean, you have to watch you don't cut your feet on super-sharp barnacles. Also, you feel really sticky when you get out. And Danice said there would be jellyfish, but I didn't see any. Still, it was a most excellent day.

The boat!

Cold, having swam. Swum?
Danice, Cara, and Cara's Dad Russ in the dinghy.

Cara and her mom and the beautiful scenery!
Friday was my birthday! I'm now a quarter of a century old. Jodi gave me a quarter to mark the occasion. Actually, the occasion was quite marked - we had a ginormous party at our new place! It was a combined birthday/housewarming/independence day party, and there were probably 50 people that came through our house that night. The best part was that we had our very own party planner - the magnificent Lindsey Fox - so we didn't have to do a thing! All 8 of Danice's nieces and nephews came, and everyone participated as Jodi and Michelle prayed a blessing over different rooms of our house. It was great to have our house filled up with people. Soon I believe we'll be the number one hang-out spot on the East side. Thanks to all who came and brought food and warmed the house and blessed ME!

Jackson, our sometimes cat, warms the porch before the guests arrive.
Dance party in the living room!
Hanging out on the porch.
Hanging out on a more different porch.
Waking up the next morning having slept on the porch! (This house is all about the porches!)

The next day, Lindsey Fox joined my roommates and I for what I believe will become a routine Saturday morning outing to the Farmer's Market, 8 blocks south of our house.

Lindsey Fox likes chocolate.
Lindsey Willie likes hummus.
Lynn likes bread.We all love crepes!

Trout Lake, where the Market is held.

And in an hour, I'm leaving for the Okanagan - my first trip there. It's a working vacation, with my co-workers and volunteers from Jacob's Well. We're going to do some gleaning (I'll explain next time), and have a lot of fun. I hear the weather is a lot like Saskatchewan in the summer - dry and hot. I'll let you know if this is true.

I'm really excited about this new house and the next year I'll spend in it, and the roommates I'll spend it with (in case you haven't noticed!) I can't wait for my family to come see it in August! The rest of you are welcome, too, you know...