cultivating & crashing

an organic collection of notes, observations, and thoughts

Everything is a present

Gracias a G.


Semi-dried tomatoes

Swiped from the BBC.

batch tomatoes (any quantity and any size, from cherry to plum)
olive oil, for brushing and covering
basil or oregano, for topping

Heat oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1. Halve tomatoes and arrange over a baking sheet, cut-sides up. Brush lightly with olive oil and put a small piece of shredded basil or oregano on each. Sprinkle with seasoning and bake for 2-3 hrs, depending on size, until semi-dried. Pack into jars and pour over olive oil. Use for salads, sauces, pizza and pasta. Store in the fridge for up to a week.

Rosemary and olive focaccia

Edit on focaccia post: today I am trying it with 1 generous tablespoon of rosemary and a small handful of dry cured black (Moroccan) olives. I am to assume that all worked well until further notice.

Sobre guita y cigarras

No sé cual me gusta más: tomar mate o saldar cuentas.

Me estoy proponiendo saldar los dos préstamos más chicos de 6,8% antes de 2018. Ya estoy “adelantada” (porque gueimificaron esta esclavitud) con los pagos, lo cual quiere decir que puedo controlar adónde van los próximos pagos. Si Dios quiere, voy a seguir adelantada por el resto del tiempo que los pago, y de esa forma puedo ir reduciendo de la manera más eficiente lo que me queda.

A veces soy una capa. Lástima que sea para el capitalismo.

* * *

Tras una oleada de calor calcinante que duró una semana y una tormenta ventosa que se llevó el verano, finalmente llegó el otoño a Montreal. Anoche cerré la ventana por primera vez para dormir, y esta mañana me di acordé que también me gusta esta época. Puede ser también que estoy sinitendo que voy emergiendo despacito, como la cigarra, primero de la tierra, luego del caparazón, dejando que se sequen y fortalezcan mis alas. Poco a poco, paso a paso, hasta que esté lista para volar nuevamente.

aritmética simple

26 kilos de tomates
7.5 kilos de melones
4.7 kilos de remolachas

mucha comida


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
small amount chocolate chips, optional!

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled or non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Pour 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot with maple syrup, peanut butter, or…

Make blueberry blintzes: make simple blueberry sauce (frozen wild blueberries simmered for a bit with a tiny amount of any kind of sugar). Assemble: blueberry sauce + cottage cheese + pancake.

The Egg

By Andy Weir

You were on your way home when you died.

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

And that’s when you met me.

“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”

“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.

“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”

“Yup,” I said.

“I… I died?”

“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.

You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”

“More or less,” I said.

“Are you god?” You asked.

“Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.”

“My kids… my wife,” you said.

“What about them?”

“Will they be all right?”

“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”

You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”

“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”

“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”

“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”

“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”

You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”

“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”

“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”

“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.

“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”

“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”

“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”

“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”

“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”

“Where you come from?” You said.

“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”

“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”

“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”

“So what’s the point of it all?”

“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”

“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.

I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”

“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”

“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”

“Just me? What about everyone else?”

“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”

You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”

“All you. Different incarnations of you.”

“Wait. I’m everyone!?”

“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

“I’m every human being who ever lived?”

“Or who will ever live, yes.”

“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”

“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.

“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.

“And you’re the millions he killed.”

“I’m Jesus?”

“And you’re everyone who followed him.”

You fell silent.

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”

You thought for a long time.

“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”

“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”

“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”

“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”

“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”

“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”

And I sent you on your way.

* * * * *

I first came across the concept of adverse childhood experiences via a CBC Ideas talk on the subject a few years ago, and what I heard was unsettling. On the one hand, I realized that what I considered broadly to be a rough childhood had been given a name. There was something tangible to which I could point; the things I lived through were real, difficult, and their consequences were devastating. On the other hand, the associations that were found between these experiences and health in later life were thoroughly depressing, even despairing at times.

To file under: things with which there is nothing to do.


Modified slightly from Feasting at Home. This makes a wonderful amount of soup, about six portions.


3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 recipe for laksa paste (below)
6 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
1½ pounds chicken (breast or thigh) cut into bite-sized pieces
1 pound raw large shrimp
2 cups or 1 regular can of coconut milk
12 fish balls
1-2 cups fried tofu, sliced
4 cups fresh bean sprouts
300g or 3/4 package wide rice noodles
Juice of 2 limes
Fish sauce to taste
Garnishes: lime wedges, cilantro, Vietnamese mint, sambal chili paste, fried shallots

Laksa paste

5 dried red chilies
2 tablespoons dried shrimp
5 shallots (about 1 cup), roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons galanga, finely chopped
2 large lemongrass stalks, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1 teaspoon fresh turmeric (or ground)
6 candle nuts or substitute cashews, brazil nuts or macadamia (or almonds)
1 tablespoon shrimp paste
2 teaspoons coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
3 tablespoons vegetable oil


In a large pot, heat enough water to cover the rice noodles. Once water is boiling, add the noodles, turn heat off, and stand until they are fully hydrated and ready to eat. This could take most of an hour for wide noodles, less for thinner ones. Drain and toss with a bit of oil to keep from sticking.

Make the laksa paste. Steep dried chilies and dried shrimp in boiling water for 20 minutes. Prep and place all the other ingredients except oil in a food processor. Drain shrimp and chilies and add to food processor. Blend until finely chopped and mixed. Add oil and continue blending until it becomes a fine paste. Don’t let the smell or taste scare you.

In a large heavy bottom soup pot or dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat. Add all the laksa paste, and saute, stirring constantly until it becomes very fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.

Add chicken broth and sugar. Bring to a boil. Add chicken, lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 4 minutes. Add shrimp. Cook for 1-2 minutes, add coconut milk, fish balls, and tofu. Simmer until heated through.

Squeeze in lime juice. Add fish sauce to taste, adding a teaspoon at a time.

Divide noodles among bowls. Ladle soup over top of noodles. Top bowls with an handful of fresh bean sprouts, fresh cilantro, mint, and a sprinkling of crispy shallots. Serve with chili sauce and lime wedges.

My new party trick

is bringing a colander to a solar eclipse.