Sunday, July 10, 2011


There's a distant intermittent roar in the air: yes, you guessed it, the Formula One race or Indy something-or-other is here in Toronto. Yucko! An article in the paper the other day quoted one driver talking about the unpleasant smell and taste of the guck on his face as he drives. But he has chosen to put himself there. We, on the other hand, who live in the city, on this humid day get to breathe in the awful smell of exhaust and burning tires etc, and hear the noise, and we did NOT choose this, nor get any balancing benefit.

There, now I've ranted, we can move on to more interesting and pleasant topics.

Early this morning I bicycled over to a friend's house, via a stop at Woodlot to pick up fresh wood-fired-oven-baked bread. My friend has just closed on her house, and doesn't move in for a few days. Until then it's like a freshly born baby: its structure is visible, not covered over by furniture (or baby softness) so that it's easy for this couple of days to imagine what it will develop into. We talked about wall colours and furniture and the garden possibilities. It was such a pleasure, and I was happy to have arrived with fresh bread and a few other things as house-warming markers of welcome.

Yesterday Dom and Tashi and I drove to Niagara, just upstream of the falls, to a family reunion party. What a huge day it was. There were about forty Duguid cousins and family members, aged six months to eighty-three. We had ten hours to talk to one another, share stories, get caught up on news. We swam in the Niagara River, ate fabulously, and just breathed in the feeling of connection. Some cousins are committed christians, others of us are not, but that doesn't stop us feeling connected and familiar to one another. The whole event, with the nearly two hour drive at each end left us feeling exhilarated and exhausted all at once. I can only imagine how tired my cousin and her family were who had done all the organising and work of planning and setting up. Thank-you everyone!

And now it's time to bear down on the Burma book editing. I've done a little re-organising, and have written a few explanatory pieces that need to go in. Now I have to sit down with the printed pages and read through, cleaning out any deadwood and keeping an eye open for inelegant phrases, unnecessary longueurs, all of which need to be pruned or firmly beaten into shape. Once I've marked up the pages, I can transfer the edits onto the computer and then, hopefully have a cleaned up ms that can be printed out and sent off to Ann Bramson. I give myself a week for this, well maybe eight days. I'll report back.

Meantime on the photo front it looks as if Richard Jung will be doing some studio shooting for the book. I am thrilled and grateful. He is so good at what he does, all with natural light. And I love the process of figuring out which dishes to put on the shot-list. But first to the edits!

Last week we did a little more retesting: a simple chicken curry that's a classic in central Burma, and then deletable Shan meatballs, both beef ones and pork ones. They're killingly good. I want to suggest that people can also make them as sliders, small patties, on the grill or in the pan.

The great thing about having salad greens and garlic and chiles and herbs in the garden is that every meal, from breakfast on, has a fresh edge and bright flavour. Soon we'll have tomatoes too. I can't wait.

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