Monthly Archives: June 2002

Sweet Potato and Coconut Cream Soup

Standard

Sweet Potato and Coconut Cream Soup
This may or may not be the recipe for the Sweet Potato, spinach, and coconut cream soup I love so much at the Carden St. Café in Guelph. I shall have to test it and find out.

Ingredients
15ml/1tbsp groundnut oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped finely
1 garlic clove, crushed
1.25cm piece fresh ginger, peeled
675g/1lb sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
15ml/1tbsp lemon grass, chopped
600ml/1pt vegetable stock
600ml/1pt coconut cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 limes, zest and juice

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion, garlic and ginger for about 5 minutes until tender. Add the sweet potatoes and lemongrass and cook for a further 3 minutes.
2. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
3. Cool the soup slightly, then liquidise with half of the coconut cream and process until smooth.
4. Return the soup to the saucepan, add the remaining coconut cream. Season with salt and pepper. Heat through without allowing the soup to boil, and add the lime juice.
5. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the lime zest.

Learning how to Write

Standard

Rhonna sent me some books. She is a goddess of all things literary. I am reading these books. I am get much out of these books.

Really what I want to do is sit down and talk to her about this, but she is busy and offline, so I will sit here on a little soap box and bore you with thoughts on writing.

Jerome Stern says,

“Dialogue is not just quotation. It is grimaces, pauses, adjustments of blouse buttons, doodles on a napkin, and crossings of legs. When people communicate, they communicate with their faces, their bodies, their timing, and the objects around them. Make this a full conversation. Not just the words part.

How wise. And so right, of course. I was thinking about this in terms of my own writing.

I have been historically very bad with dialogue, and I know it. In my past (10 years ago) I wrote dialogue that wasn’t incorrect, per se, but just didn’t feel right. So when I started up again recently, I decided to just go very very easy on the dialogue. I use it very sparingly now, and cut it out where possible.

But I was thinking about this comment, about the fact that it’s not just about what’s in quotation marks, and I realized that I had done something sort of odd. Well, odd for me, I think. Without realizing.

Lately, I’ve done dialogue parts, that simply HAVE to be dialogue parts, and I notice that when things get more dramatic, and scary, and really delicate, I sometimes start to drop away everything but the dialogue. So like, I’ll start with one sentence of dialogue, and then a paragraph of thoughts or fiddling or whatever, and then another line of dialogue. Very very spaced out, as if it takes forever. But in some scenes, where the place is set, and the characters are, you know, quite far along in the development, so that we know what they’re thinking even without me saying so…I kind of let them drift off.

Like. I have one set of dialogue that takes place at the very very end of a story, where there’s been all this behind the eyes things that no one ever says, with this whole dance of ‘everything is totally normal and we have no trust problems here’, and suddenly at the end, one of the characters asks the ‘elephant in the middle of the room’ question. And the scene has been going on for some time, it’s on, like, page 5 or 6 of it. And I just stop describing. Suddenly it’s just all words, I don’t even interject with who’s speaking, though it’s pretty clear who is, thankfully. Like, you’ve been waiting to hear these words from those mouths for 18 chapters and now here it is.

It’s like…

There comes a point where I, as the third person narrator, just stepped back to let these characters express what they’ve been thinking about and muddling over the whole time, and there’s this stillness abou that. As if, and I guess this is the point, in a conversation like this, there is nothing else that’s important, nothing else significant. The body, the physical world just kind of disappears for a moment and this sort of…quiet conversation is all there is.

I know you can’t do this a lot. Like. Probably best to do it almost never. But I really like the end of that story. I think it’s quite effective, particularly since I am so heavily descriptive most of the time.

Well, I guess I could add lots of description in there. Maybe it would be improved by that. But there’s something about the zeroing in, the quietness of it, that I really like. It gives that last bit of dialogue this incredible weight, I think. Kind of hanging in the middle of nowhere kind of weight. But also a kind of lightness, like the slightest move might make it float away, or shatter, or disintegrate.

Hmmm.

What I love best about rules for writing is how sometimes breaking them is the fun part.

Pregnant Sister Watch

Standard

Well, still no baby. But. They are planning to induce my sister tomorrow, and I’m going to go over there and look after Lucy, their lovely little liquid cat. And, like, give out information, I assume, cause, I would be calling a lot if I heard that my sis was in the hospital.

She sounds scared. Well, it’s scary, isn’t it? But my nephew seems to be just fine. They did an ultrasound and he was sucking his thumb, they did a stress test and they say he’s happy.

He’s already a happy baby!

There are so many worries with a late birth, and inducing, but I’m quite sure everything is fine. They just keep warning. I think needlessly, really. Little guy is just having a bit of a lie down before proceeding forth.

One more day.

Strange Dreams

Standard

J. gave me a sleeping pill last night. No idea why I took it, but I did. And I had the strangest dream. I was in Toronto, doing something or other, and I looked out the window and saw that one row, lengthwise, of balconies had just fallen off one of the apartment buildings in St. James town. Now, you have to understand taht St. James town is an urban experiment that failed; there are fourteen or fifteen apartment buildings in there, which spans only one square block, and each of these is about twenty-five to thirty storeys high. It used to be the hip place to live if you were young and hip, but now it’s just the first stop off for people who just got off th boat from wherever. The landlords are rude and don’t bother being helpful, either. It’s really just an exercise in immigrant abuse if you ask me, not that anyone actually does.

So. In the dream, the rickety metal balconies careen to the ground. For a second I wonder if I should get out of my building. I am, after all, just across the street. I decide not to. I’m in the middle of something (a conversation? I don’t remember). The next time I look, the entire building has been demolished, just like that. There’s dust everywhere. Now I’m still wondering. Should I go downstairs now? (Keep in mind that I live on the 26th floor.) I still don’t.

And then, while I’m watching, the building directly in front of me leans toward me, the corner touches the building and I feel it rumble. Now I’m running into the hallway but I can still see that building leaning over and collapsing. Soon, all of St. James Town is just a mess of rubble and dust. I’m appalled, and scared about what’s going to happen when I get downstairs.

I’m home and I’m almost famous. I survived this bombing, or whatever it was. I drive with my dad down Wellseley, which leads up to St. James Town, and he doesn’t really believe me. “It’s gone, I’m telling you,” I say, pointing at the sky line, where there is this tremendous break. “Yes, yes, so it is!” he says.

When I did finally leave my apartment, I took only two things; my favourite blanket (which my grandmother brought back from West Germany, when there was such a thing), and my plush Snoopy. I didn’t bring my computer, or anything else. I felt good about this. Why, I would get a beautiful new computer, I am insured, after all. I would get new furniture, new clothes, new everything. I am strangely pleased.

I have this excuse now, and people feel sorry for me. “Oh, my. You survived that?”

I try to get a job based on that. I feel confident that it will work.