Saturday, February 26, 2011

How To Make Chip Dip

Sometime in the past couple months, Chive was out visiting with someone, and they served chips and dip. Store dip. We don't buy the stuff ourselves - it's glutenous. I don't think he'd ever tried it before, and he was appalled at the taste.

He mentioned it the next time he saw me making dip for chips and veggies here at home, and I remarked that not only the taste, but the price was ghastly too. For a teeny wee little 250ml container, most grocery stores charge about $3. He was shocked. I did a quick-n-dirty calculation, and reckoned that the bowl that I made, approximately 1 litre, was costing us about $4. And it tastes good. Too good. Too bad for the state of lushness in my hindquarters, but at least I'm not paying the lenten price while I'm eating it, too!

Maybe it's foolish to post this, but I've been thinking a lot about making a recipe book for my kids, and one of the things I want to include is a dip recipe. I want them to have something on hand to refer to when they branch out and need a memory-jog on how to feed themselves gluten-freely, without paying someone else to put the food on their plates.

So here it is, yer basic dip.

(And here's a Helpful Hint, useful in general cookery - you can always add more, but you can't add less. Start conservative, and then became a thrashing liberal as the spirit moves you.)

Sour cream, any amount you choose. This is the body of your dip, so whatever you scoop into your mixing bowl will be more or less the amount you'll get out of it in the end. Might as well use the whole litre, huh?

Garlic, finely minced. I used 2 small cloves for my 1 litre of sour cream.

Onions, either white onions, or red, or scallions. Finely minced. Maybe 1/4 of a sweet onion? Remember the Helpful Hint.

Salt and pepper.

Vinegar. I used 1 capful, or approximately 1 tbsp.

Fresh lemon juice. I said FRESH. Put that bottle of RealLemon back on the shelf. 2 tsp.

Grated cheese, if you want. Cheddar, mozza, parmesan. Real parmesan, SVP. You can use as much as you like, but if you use too much your dip gets so stiff it'll break the chips.

Dill. I like dill, personally. If you don't like it, or don't like any of the above, feel free to omit. But I used about 1 tsp of dried dill.

Any other herbs you feel compelled to add. Chive'll add basil to just about anything, so I have to watch him closely if I intend to eat his creations.

Just mix it up. Let it sit in the fridge for an hour.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Calling Your Shots

So this morning my daughter comes up from her bedroom, and she's complaining of a sore stomach. She figures she shouldn't go to school. I don't have a big problem with that - it's not like it's particularly important, eh? But she works in the cafeteria, doing real work, and that bit I do take seriously. The woman who runs it depends on her help. So a phone call must be made.

But who should make the call? Me? Why me? If school is about preparing for real life, as they insist it is, then I figure Poppy should be making her own phone calls. But schools tend to be a bit funny about that. Kids calling themselves in sick? That doesn't happen. I mean, you can't trust 'em, can you? Everyone knows that kids hate school, and they'll do anything to wiggle out of it.

Except.... my daughter goes because she chooses to go. I've had this conversation with the staff several times. She chooses to go, she chooses which courses to take, she chooses. So I figure that means that she should alert them if she's not going to be there, and it matters. In English class, it doesn't matter. The class goes on without her. But the cafeteria, that's a major inconvenience for the other cafeteria staff. A call must be made.

So she called, and I was ready to be referred to if they weren't going to accept her say-so, but there wasn't a problem. We're having a lot less problems this year in that regard.

A few weeks ago they brought a substitute in for one of Poppy's classes, cosmetology. This woman tends to be pretty high-strung. She completely lost it during classtime, had girls in tears, the class in chaos, and she was yelling at everyone, including my daughter. Poppy picked up her books, and said evenly, "I'm going to go study in the library". The sub replied, "You just do whatever you want, don't you?!" To which Poppy answered, "That's right."

Amen. Not that we don't need to make an effort to get on together under normal circumstances, but nobody should tolerate crap.

The next day, the regular teacher was back. She made a little speech regarding difficult people, and how if you're working in a spa, you'll end up with working with difficult people, so you need to learn to tiptoe around them. My daughter knows better. She watches her mother in action.

I do NOT put up with difficult people. Or rather, I do, but I don't put up with their difficult behaviours. You want to be a cantankerous wretch? Go right ahead - but in my clinic you'll be reasonably courteous, and you'll keep you appointments on time, or you'll find another therapist. I work at being very good at what I do, and that's something people are willing to be courteous for. Maybe if I were mediocre and desperate, I'd put up with abuse for the money. I think that's one of the side-benefits of competence - it makes you a lot less vulnerable.

Yesterday, another mum of a child at that school was telling me that her child had been bullied by another child, who'd been burning her son. High school, for crying out loud. When she finally figured it out, she gave the school hell, gave the other child's parents hell, and gave her son hell for choosing to be a victim instead of blowing a gasket.

But her son is stuck there. That's why he didn't speak up, isn't it? He feels stuck, and in his mind, he's dealing with the circumstances as best he can, because he has to face that torment in some form every day. I hope his mind learns freedom. I hope that as an adult he learns that he has agency to call his own shots.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Yesterday afternoon I was standing in a shop chatting with one of the employees. We were the only two there, so it was pretty informal. My eye landed on a foster-care advertisement, recruiting families. Instant ire. I started telling her about our short, intense career as foster parents, and why I'd never recommend that anyone ever foster with the Alberta government. It's the bloody-minded-est system that was ever conceived in hell's boardroom. It's organized abuse of both the children and the foster-families. Maybe it's an abuse of the social workers too, but from my perspective they look like willing collaborators.

I told her about our experience, how the girls were taken from our home after a month stay because I "wouldn't return the foster-worker's calls", because I'd taken the kids to the mountains - which they'd never seen - for two days, and I didn't have a cell phone 10 years ago. Actually it was because I'd been raising hell with the department over my girls' social worker and her lies to them and to me. I'd been recording and documenting the discrepancies. Two children had already died in that birth family - apparently that wasn't reason enough to supervise them on home visits. I was a huge pain in the ass.

After being taken from our home, they were put in another home, where I later found out that they were sexually abused for five years before it was "discovered" and they were yanked yet again. Last I heard the older girl was on the street.

There are so many other stories, like that one and worse. I hate Alberta Social Services.

But that's not actually what I was posting about, eh? Pant, pant. Okay, I'm pulling myself back together now...

As we talked, she told me that she'd spent time in foster care as a child, what that had been like for her (the homes were decent, at least), how hard it was to be deserted by your mother as a child, and still as an adult.

There are so many things we don't know about the people around us. This isn't someone I'd felt a connection with before. She's "not like me". But when I hear more of her story, things start to fall into place and make sense, and I realize why things are the way they are, and she starts to seem a lot more "like me" than I'd originally believed. Or perhaps it's that I'm more "like her". In a lot of ways we are all "like" each other.

Under it all, almost always same-same. Strange and wonderful and messy.

It makes it harder. If I can believe that someone is "other" or that I am "other" than them, then I don't have to take them into consideration. I can be different, and special, and misunderstood. The fact that I misunderstand them isn't part of the equation. It's all about me.

And yeah, we're all unique. But yeah, we're all the same too. Tough to live that one.

This probably means I'm same-same with the social workers too.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

And the winner is -

Yay Deb! I'll let you know when I'm done whatever it is, and you can send me your address.
Thanks to everyone who played!