On microhistory and meal planning, part 9

I’ve never fully understood why news outlets make a point of mentioning whether someone from their own country is involved in an international incident. Headlines like “hundreds killed, including 1 Canadian” just … land weirdly with me. Shouldn’t it matter, regardless of where they’re from? It seems callous – like they’re assuming no one will care unless there’s a local connection.

In a way, though, it’s true. Not that no one will care, but in a world obsessed with demographics and definitions and sorting people into columns, news does tend to hit closer to home if we can picture ourselves there. If we feel as though the thing that happened could have happened to us, if not for a simple twist of fate. I’ll admit that the bombing in Istanbul was made more resonant for me by the news that a former colleague and her partner were nearby, and had been at the site mere minutes before it happened.

The truth is that world events impact us whether or not we or our compatriots are directly involved. Even if it happens in the smallest way. That’s why microhistory is so fascinating. To look at things on such a granular level, and know how events felt for people. People like us, and not like us. People who were directly involved, people who had a near miss, people who knew someone who knew someone who knew someone, and those who had no connection to anything at all. Because we’re all connected, really, even when we aren’t.

It’s interesting how we go from the macro to the micro to the nano. Take the unrest in the Middle East, for example. (Yes, I’m back on this topic again. Deal with it. It’s important.) Things that are happening all the way on the other side of the world have created a situation that impacts us here at home, and even in our homes.

We’ve welcomed hundreds of Syrian refugees to BC so far, with many more to come. This has ignited compassion in many of us, and galvanized hatred in others. And there’s a full spectrum of nuanced feelings and opinions in between.

And the suspicion some people have when it comes to refugees, and Muslims in general (which is exacerbated by world events like the Istanbul bombing and yesterday’s attacks in Ouagadougou), has too often devolved into paranoia, to the point where visually-impaired visitors from the UK are flagged as potential terrorists and moral panic ensues.

As a white, Canadian-born woman, does this directly affect my day-to-day existence? Maybe not in a tangible way. But that’s not the point here, and it’s not a good reason not to care. Because although my experience walking down the street may not have changed, the same doesn’t necessarily ring true for other people in my community.

If my neighbour can’t go out in public without people thinking he’s a terrorist, and if his kids have to worry about being bullied in school because they happen to be Muslim, or even just look like they might be Muslim (and since there’s no way to tell a person’s religion by looking at them, let’s face facts and call it racial profiling), then that should concern me too. Because as members of the community, we all have a stake in making sure it’s safe and welcoming for everyone.

Too much in my head? Maybe. My blog, though.

The price of oil is still falling, taking the dollar with it, so the price of beef continues to rise and produce is creeping up as well. That, along with the small one’s need for soft foods and tendency to take HUGE bites (don’t even get me started on the baby-led weaning thing right now), means we’re turning increasingly to frozen vegetables, ground pork, and other cheap things cut up into teeny tiny pieces. Here’s what we’re having this week:

Sunday: I found this recipe for spaetzle with kielbasa and caramelized onions on the New York Times website. I’m excited to try my hand at spaetzle. But also nervous because Justin’s part German so he probably knows his spaetzle. But also excited because Justin isn’t actually picky so he’ll eat it even if it sucks. And there’s cheese on it.

UPDATE: Justin has informed me he has never had spaetzle. Nervousness kaput.

UPDATE UPDATE: I didn’t get this post finished before dinner, so now I can tell you this was a pain in the butt to make and the dough was way more than “slightly” thicker than pancake batter, even though I added extra milk to thin it out, which made it really hard to pass through the grater I used as a spaetzle board. Also, the following exchange took place –

Me (up to my elbows in sticky gooey spaetzle dough): Gawd, if I’d known it was this much of a pain, I probably would have picked a different recipe.

Justin: If I’d known it was this much of a pain, I’d have just brought some home from work.

Me: YOU SELL SPAETZLE AT THE BUTCHER SHOP?! *murders husband with bare hands*

On the bright side, it was delicious, and the small one so appreciated my efforts that she promptly said “DADA” and now Justin has to change all the diapers forever until she learns to say mama.

Monday: Justin’s making pork schnitzel because he makes incredible schnitzel. We’re also having this butter lettuce and radish salad with lemon-garlic vinaigrette from Epicurious. It’s so easy, and it’s the best salad. Go make it.

Tuesday: Continuing with the theme of foods that start with a “sch” sound, I’ll be making Schwarties hash browns from the Best of Bridge cookbook. Both of our mums made this when we were growing up, so it’s a go-to comfort food and a tradition we’ll pass on to the small one. I’ll probably microwave some frozen vegetables to go with it.

Wednesday: Mexican quinoa casserole from Food52. Because canned things and frozen things and dried things make your fresh things and meat things go further.

Thursday: I’m going to stir fry some ground pork with sesame oil and soya sauce and maybe some ginger and garlic and bean sprouts, and try to somehow make it good. Also rice. And I’m excited to try this marinated eggplant recipe from Food52, if I can find decent eggplant for a decent price. Because now that the small one is motoring around like nobody’s business, I need recipes that I don’t have to fuss over and stir on the stove, so the microwave is my friend. But one day I will make risotto again. I have faith.

Friday: Bucatini with Marcela Hazan’s deceptively simple yet awfully delicious tomato sauce, as adapted by Smitten Kitchen. As adapted by me. The small one will be having this with somewhat overcooked rotini instead of bucatini, on account of how she just can’t handle herself. And we’ll be having bucatini because our cupboard is currently housing several pounds of it that the Italian importer next to the butcher shop gave to Justin for free.

Saturday: Food & Wine’s Garlic-braised chicken legs with potatoes. I’ve wanted to try this one for a while. Also, see above re: motoring baby. When the microwave needs a rest, shoving something in the oven and forgetting about it is also a pal o’ mine. Plus wine, because it’s Saturday, and 1/2 cup of wine in the chicken means 625ml left over that we can’t just leave to spoil. Wine.

And that’s this week in big and small.

baby on swing
this guy.



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