Eli's Corner


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look what they’ve done to my song

I don’t generally take to this blog to talk about these kinds of things, but since I’m off Facebook, this is my outlet ;)

I stumbled across this video while looking for old Dolly Parton performances (yes, I do things like that).  And I was struck by the artistry and talent of this young woman.  This is a cover, but the lyrics are oddly prescient.

This video has about 3 million views to the 250-odd million that her more notorious videos have.  It makes me think. If we all clicked on, talked about, wrote about, paid money to see – this, this is likely what would prevail in pop culture.  Not that this is everybody’s taste – I’m just saying, if we celebrated artistry instead of stunts and autoexploitation, the industry would follow the dollar.  It’s oh-so-easy to jump on the judgement band wagon, but in doing so, we ratchet up the views on those videos that we’re clicking on just so we can shake our fingers at them, we generate buzz, we consume the paper-thin media coverage of these “events”.  In short, even as we complain, we make the very things we criticize profitable.

Brings to mind and old saying:

“I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

I’m not saying Miley wouldn’t still do her thang.  But she’d be free to do it for her own sake, not because an industry demands it, along with a nation of armchair critics, however unwittingly they do so.  And we’d be free to enjoy what’s good and just not freak out about what we don’t like.  That just all seems better to me.

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juice, glorious juice

I bought a juicer at a Boxing Day sale last year and have – to my own great surprise and delight – been juicing ever since.

Right around 3 in the afternoon, that time when I start to crash, when I used to reach for a second caffeine of the day or grab some sugar to keep from slipping off into a comatose stupor, I now consume this:

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Ok – I consume half of it – when juiced, the above becomes this:

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Folks, it’s amazing.  You juice this stuff up and you feel like you can take on the world.  I work at home, so I have the luxury of quitting what I’m doing and taking the 20-odd minutes required to prep and juice these veggies and then clean the juicer.  I run one glass downstairs to my husband, who is usually on a call with a client and meets my arrival with a fist-pump of triumph, and then I drain my own glass, reveling in how awesome I feel before hitting the grindstone with renewed vigor.

It took a few weeks of juicing regularly for me to notice a difference, but now I’ve gotten to a point where I feel all wrong when I don’t do it.  And there are fringe benefits to juicing as well.  I used to shy away from buying vegetables in bulk because there’s only two of us, and I thought we’d never get through them.  Now, with the confidence that I can just throw things in the juicer if we don’t get around to cooking them, I’m a vegetable buying fiend.  I prep my refrigerated veggies in advance – washing the kale, and trimming and washing the carrots and celery and any herbs.  Non-refrigerated veggies (tomatoes, cucumbers, citrus, etc.) are all within easy reach.  With all these vegetables at hand, I’m far more likely to throw some extras into whatever I’m making.  As a result, I find that we also consume far more vegetables in our meals now that we’re juicing.

People often ask me what my favorite juice blend is.  Um, I kind of just throw everything in there based on what nutrients I’m going for.  In the beginning it was occasionally very untasty.  I have learned from some mistakes over time and now follow a couple of rules of thumb to maximize my juicing experience:

  1. Just because it can be juiced doesn’t mean it should.  For example, never, under any circumstances, juice an onion.  Trust me.
  2. Get the most bang for your buck.  I find that most of the juice I get from kale comes from the stalks, not the leaves, so I pull the leaves off for salads and cooking, and I use the stalks for juice.  Similarly, I use the leafy parts of the celery and the stems of herbs for juicing, rather than throwing them out.
  3. Waste not.  In the beginning, I saved the juice pulp to add to soups, sauces, and even baking.  I have since failed to be that organized, although I do fertilize my herb garden with the pulp still.  It seems oddly cannibalistic, but my herbs seem to love it.
  4. Buy organic when possible, and wash thoroughly.  I soak all my veggies in a bowl with room-temperature water and a little baking soda before scrubbing and rinsing them.
  5. Juice really needs to have a little bit of a kick for it to taste good.  For that I use the following:
  •  green apples – you can often buy organic granny smiths at a reasonable price if you by them by the bag
  •  lemon or lime – again, reasonable if purchased in bulk
  •  a good-sized hunk of fresh ginger
  •  sweet bell pepper

Juicing is time consuming, but it has become ingrained into our routine now, and it makes us feel amazing.  I usually catch every bug that goes around, but this is the first year on record that I have held steady despite everyone around me dropping like dominoes as the brutal Canadian cold season sets in.

Just FYI, here’s exactly what went into the afternoon snack pictured above (and a by-no-means-exhaustive list of the health benefits of these ingredients):

  • 1 bell pepper (for eyesight, immunity, prevention of birth defects, cancer prevention, and regulation of blood pressure)
  • 1 lime (aids with digestion, immunity, and prevention of heart disease)
  • 1 lemon (immunity, detoxification, antibacterial, and antiviral)
  • 1 good-sized hunk of ginger (about 1.5″ X 1.5″) (aids digestion, boosts immunity, reduces inflammation, and fights cancer)
  • 3 stalks of celery (anti-inflammatory with over a dozen types of antioxidants)
  • 3 carrots (for eyesight, beautiful skin, and detoxification)
  • 1 granny smith apple (for regulated blood sugar and a steady heart rhythm)
  • 1 cucumber (cucumbers have most of the vitamins the body needs in a single day, and they fight everything from arthritis to bad breath)
  • A handful of Italian parsley (folic acid and heart health)
  • A few stalks of kale (anti-inflammatory, helps prevent blood clotting, and has more calcium-per-calorie than milk)

This particular blend was completely fabulous.  And I will probably never die. **


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freaking awesome cranberry sauce

High praise for my own recipe, but I call it like I see it.  Ok, truth be told, this isn’t my own recipe – my mom found it on the back of a bag of cranberries somewhere when I was a kid, and we’ve been making it for Thanksgiving and Christmas ever since.  It’s packed with fresh oranges, whole cranberries, antioxidants and zesty, tangy goodness.  And it’s easy to make.  Almost foolproof.  I say almost because ever since the year that my brother kind of made it into a cranberry-orange slurpee, it’s been my job to make it.

It’s been years since I’ve seen that original recipe, since I just do it by feel now, but as I recall, it called for way more sugar.  Over the years I’ve upped the orange juice concentrate levels to cut down the refined sugar.  In all honesty, I think you could eliminate the sugar altogether, but I know my audience, and they are not ready.  Cutting sugar by adding more orange juice changes the consistency (making it a little soupier and less like the relish it was originally), but it makes it healthier, and I think it improves the flavor.  That tart-sweet cranberry-orange combo is a powerful thing.

As I said, I usually just feel my way through this, but his time I tried to pay attention to quantities for your benefit, so without further ado:

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INGREDIENTS

1 Bag Frozen Cranberries (600 g – or 21 oz)

3 Oranges (washed, ends cut off, and cut into quarters)

1 can (295 ml – or 10 oz) Orange Juice Concentrate

1/4 cup (or 60 ml) sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

Blend a few orange wedges (peels and all) and a cup or so of cranberries in the food processor then remove them and place them in a bowl.  Continue the process with the remaining orange wedges and cranberries until they are all thoroughly chopped (but not pulverized).  Then add the orange juice concentrate and sugar to the bowl and stir thoroughly.  (This time I just added the orange juice and sugar to oranges and cranberries in the food processor – which just makes everything a little soupier, if that is your preference.)

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This will make enough to feed all your relatives and give you some left over to spread on your turkey sandwiches.  You’re welcome.

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pumpkin pie recipe – vegan, gluten free, soy free

Last weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving.  Despite having been here four years now, it still feels like practice Thanksgiving, to be honest – a chance to hone your craft before heading down south several weeks later for The Show.  Canadian Thanksgiving is pretty much a standard 3-day weekend up here.  Participation  is elective and spotty at best – it’s kind of like how you wouldn’t know it was Columbus Day unless you saw ads for Columbus Day sales at your local RV dealer and were planning on getting away this weekend because you had a day off…but you’re not necessarily going to do anything Columbus-y.  (Especially not if you live in Berkeley, where if you are doing anything that weekend, you are celebrating Indigenous People’s Day as opposed to paying homage to that bumbling foreign oppressor…but I digress.)

Americans take their Thanksgiving far more seriously – a half day on Wednesday followed by a full 4-day weekend and the total shutdown of all stores – except the few grocery stores that stay open until around 11am to accommodate panicked shoppers who forgot shallots or cranberries or some such thing.  Then of course there’s the football and the frenetic preparations for the utter chaos that is Black Friday.

With the exception of football and Black Friday, my family is no different.  We all make it for Thanksgiving, and the food is epic.  We each have our areas of expertise.  Mine happen to be pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce.  I have a pumpkin pie recipe that was handed down from my grandmother to my mother and eventually to me.  It’s been tweaked and honed over the years – tricks to get that crust to flaky perfection, the slightest adjustments to get the filling to the perfect balance of creamy goodness and pumpkiny spice.  Oh, yeah – and this is not that recipe.  Sorry folks.  That recipe will kill you.

I’m really taking a long time to get to the point.  This is the part I always skip anyways when I’m looking for recipes online….blah blah blah, it’s fall and you wanted to make something homey…we get it, skip to the ingredients.  So odds are you aren’t even reading this.  If you are, the point is that my husband’s family does make a big deal out of Canadian Thanksgiving – thank goodness! – and I’ve got some dietary restrictions this year.  Meh.  Normally, I don’t ask other people to accommodate my diet – I just skip things, or I break the rules and feel gross later.  It turns out, however, that my brother-in-law recently discovered that he is pretty much allergic to all things that you need to avoid on a fertility diet, which works out perfectly for me, since he very much is the sort to ask everybody to accommodate his diet.  So this year, we had vegan mashed potatoes, and vegan, gluten free cornbread and stuffing, and I made this pie.  I have to say, it was the first time I’ve ever finished a Thanksgiving dinner and not felt sluggish, overstuffed and yucky.  It was fantastic!

I adapted the pie from this Vegan Sweet Potato Pie recipe on my Endo Diet Pinterest Board.  Let me be clear: it’s not as good as the eggy, creamy, gluten-and-crisco-laden recipe that my family has handed down for generations – BUT – it was very good.  I felt that my pumpkin pie needs were met and was not tempted to drift over to the regular pumpkin pie that my mother-in-law brought.  Also, I remembered to take a picture this time – yay!

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I have made this crust before with regular flour, and it was really tasty.  This time, to make it gluten free, I used this, which I recently stumbled across in Costco and decided to give a whirl:

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I found the crust slightly more brittle and slightly less flavorful using this, but people who had not experienced the previous crust said that they thought the gluten-free crust was good.  So, perhaps better if you don’t know what you’re missing.

I’m just reposting the recipe here with all my modifications because it’s going to be easier than switching back and forth between two recipes:

INGREDIENTS

For the crust

1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 cup gluten free flour

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tablespoons maple syrup

For the filling

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

2 14-oz cans pumpkin

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 heaping teaspoon nutmeg

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the coconut whipped cream

2 cans full-fat coconut milk (chilled overnight)

1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Add almonds and rolled oats to a food processor and grind to a powder. Make sure you don’t overblend — you may end up making a paste. Place flour in a medium-sized bowl and add almond and oat mixture. Mix well.

2. Add the coconut oil and mix with a fork until it is thoroughly incorporated into the flour mixture.

3. Stir in the maple syrup; mix just enough to blend well and form a dough that will hold together when pressed.
Transfer mixture to a 9-inch pie pan and spread into an even thickness on the sides and bottom of the pan.

4. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let the crust cool before filling.

5. While crust is baking, make the pie filling: in a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar and cornstarch until combined. Add pumpkin, coconut milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and salt and whisk until blended. Pour mixture into pre-baked pie crust.

6. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until edges are set and center slightly jiggles. Let cool on a wire rack at least 1 hour before serving.

7. While pie is baking, open the can of chilled coconut milk, turn upside down, and open. Pour out the liquid at the top; you’ll use the cream part, not the liquid.

8. Gently pour the coconut fat into a food processor and blend until whipped. Add vanilla and maple syrup and whip again until fully incorporated.  Refrigerate until ready to serve with pie.

Bottom line: Easy recipe with no super obscure ingredients.  Scratches the pumpkin pie itch without making you feel gross later.


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sunshine award

Hey all,

I’ve been nominated for the Sunshine Award!  Yay!  I have to confess I had no idea what that was – being pretty green at all things bloggy – and it took me a minute to figure it out.  It kind of reminds me of the old chain letters you used to get.  Yes, I’m old enough to remember chain LETTERS, none of this email-this-to-100-people-or-your-cat-will-die crap.  I’m talking mail a pair of panties to 9 friends and you’ll get 200 pairs of panties in the mail.  I never actually did that because it was a lot of postage, and I felt weird getting panties in the mail from strangers.  Also, really, who needs 200 pairs of panties?  But this I will do, because it means that A Calm Persistence believes that I am a writer who brightens other people’s days – which is amazing and awesome.  Especially since I write pretty honestly about some pretty dark things on here.  I think we all need each other in this journey, and sometimes the honesty perhaps shines a light in the dark.  And if there’s any kind of silver lining in this process, it’s thinking that your going through it might then help you carry the burden with someone else a few steps of the way.  To be told something like this brings a little ray of redemption into the whole thing, and that is pretty wonderful.  And if I can help introduce you to some of the brave women who have been helping me along the way, then I welcome that opportunity.

Incidentally, you should read A Calm Persistence‘s blog.  Here is one good reason why:

stay positive

See what I mean about we need each other?  Ok.  Down to business.  This is my first ever award and I’m determined not to mess it up.

The rules are:

Include the Sunshine Award icon in your post – done!

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Link to the blogger who nominated you – check!

Answer 10 questions about yourself – see below

Nominate 10 other bloggers to receive the award – ibid

Make up 10 questions that are super long and/or annoying to answer (ok, I invented that rule) – check!

Link to your nominees and let them know you nominated them.  – part 1 done and part 2 will do once I publish this – whew!

Ok – here are the questions I need to answer:

1. Why do you Blog?

I started blogging as an outlet for myself in the TTC process.  I typically journal to sort out my thoughts, but I thought perhaps if I did an anonymous blog, maybe someone else dealing with the same things might come across it and find it helpful.  At the time I had no idea there was a whole community out there.  Connecting through this medium with others on this journey has been an amazing resource and encouragement for me.

2. What are you most proud of?

Honestly, I know it sounds kind of pathetic, but at this point I’m just proud that I’m keeping on keeping on.  It’s been a rough few years, but stuff like this teaches you a lot about yourself.  One of my favorite quotes is “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste,” and my hope in all of this is that it will not be wasted but that somehow I will manage to stop wrestling God long enough to allow him to use this to shape me into a sturdier, kinder me.

3. What is one thing you want to learn how to do?

Dive.  I’ve always had trouble with getting inverted (flips, dives, cartwheels, what have you).  I’m an avid swimmer – goggles, swim cap, the whole 9 yards, but I’ve never learned to dive and am now at the point where it’s just embarrassing.  (As one gets older, it turns out, one really finds fewer and fewer scenarios in which bellyflopping and cannonballing are considered acceptable methods of entering a pool.)

4. If you could have any super power, what would it be?

This one:

Only less kill-everybody-and-start-world-war-III and more visit-my-family-whenever-I-want-and-have-dinner-in-Istanbul-tonight.  Also, it opens up several career paths:  search and rescue, crime fighting, crime, transportation-for-hire, smuggler, coyote, etc.

5. What is your best piece of advice?

Be kind to yourself.

6. If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?

I aspire to do what my totally inspiring in-laws have done with their money: pick a just standard of living and stick to it.  Then continue to work hard and invest wisely so that you can give extravagantly.

7. What is your favorite season? Why?

Summertime!  Sun on my skin, bra-optional sundresses.  (Don’t worry, I’m pretty flat-chested.)

8. What is your all time favorite meal?

First date with my now-husband.  He took me out to a 5-star French restaurant in San Francisco.  Neither of us had ever eaten a meal like that before (it involved pear soup with african peppercorns, a quail, a souffle, and chocolate mousse to end your very life).   The food, the conversation – and, doubtless, the swirling pheromones, made it the meal of a lifetime.

9. What is your favorite song?

Right now?  Probably this one.  It’s kind of been my anthem in my TTC process:

10. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

Well, when it comes down to it, I guess we could live almost anywhere in the world, but we live where we live (Vancouver), so I guess the question then is why.  I mean, it’s very pretty and nice, but it’s also rainy and expensive.  I think the thing that keeps us here is the community.  There are just some seriously cool people around here.  And they seem to have time to hang out, whereas in San Francisco, we had to book 3 months in advance to do anything with anybody.  Also, he’s got family nearby.

Ok, next step: As many of us do, I follow a lot of wonderful blogs, and these are just a few of them.  These all happen to be women working to build their families – most are trying to conceive, some have adopted, some are redefining what family means to them.  All are honest, brave and human.  These blogs have encouraged me, helped me feel less isolated and crazy, and have inspired me.

Here, in no particular order, are my nominees:

Adding a Burden

Redeeming Infertility

Project Sweet Pea

Abby Hummel

You Can’t Choose When

Stupid Stork

Hey, Myrtle!

Hang Your Hopes From Trees

On the other side of the belly button

The Elusive Second Line

And here are my questions to you:

1. Why did you start blogging and why do you blog now?

2. If you were running for President (or Prime Minister or whatever your head of state is) what would your platform be?  (Not trying to make this political…but wondering what social issues matter to you most.)

3. Of all the places you’ve been, which one would you like to return to?  Why?

4. If you could go back in time to the beginning of your TTC journey and tell yourself one thing,  what would it be?

5. If you were being interrogated by the CIA (or the KGB or MI6 or whatever your country’s scary secret police is…in my country it’s the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, I guess, which is just so Canada…our scary cops wear cute outfits and ride horses) what song would they need to play over and over to break you?

6. Any random hidden talents?

7. One of your top 5 quotes ever? (Because I always find it hard to pick my #1 of anything.)

8. What’s your proudest moment before the age of 10?

9. Best fictional book you’ve ever read (or one of your top 5):

10.  What question do you wish I had asked you?

Play along if you like!