In Our Nature

Recently, I’ve had to complete three months of weekly sessions with a social worker to prepare for upcoming bariatric surgery. As part of the process, we talked about activities that I can commit to doing that keep my hands and mind busy. During those three months I saw something on Facebook; it was a post about an upcoming, local short story competition. I’ve had an idea for a short story swirling around in my brain since late summer (a confluence of things I’d heard or seen, and the resulting thoughts and feelings) and I considered submitting it. It’s not that I think I would have any chance of winning it but I wanted to do it as a challenge. There are so many ways in which I’m comfortable “putting myself out there”, but there are a few that are very uncomfortable for me and I’m trying to learn to face those. Sharing a story or a poem makes me feel much more vulnerable than sharing how I’m feeling. I decided not to enter the competition for no other reason than not wanting to deal with the entrance paperwork and fees right now. I’m learning not to take on too much when I’m feeling overwhelmed. For me, the real “win” would have been to face the fear of sharing it, so I decided I could do that right here. So, if you’re reading this (and, subsequently, the following story) then you are helping me overcome one of my fears. Thank you for supporting me in that way.


“Don’t play too near to the shore”,  Ceta’s mother, Kohola,  warned as Ceta finished her milk. “I want you back before sunset so we can enjoy dinner together”.  Kohola watched Ceta go, wary of letting her young daughter play on her own,  and she gave her a long wave to let Ceta know she’d be watching her from a distance.  “Be safe, little one”, Kohola called after her in a soft voice. Ceta was thrilled at the opportunity to explore the coastline near her family’s summer home in the Pacific Northwest of British Columbia. The summer home had been in Ceta’s family for generations but it was her first time visiting and she planned to explore every bit of it.

Near to the shore she found the ocean was teeming with life. There were starfish, and all kinds of seaweed, and plenty of little creatures with hard shells that would scurry around at her presence.  Ceta was gentle with them, for her mother had taught her to be respectful of all living things. “But, Momma”, Ceta had wondered out loud to Kohola recently, “If we respect all living creatures why do we eat some of them?”. “It is in our nature, Ceta”, Kohola answered patiently, never seeming to tire of Ceta’s demanding thirst for knowledge. “Everything gives life to something else. The cost of every living thing comes at the expense of something else. There is no escaping this truth, and so we must do our best to respect all living things as our equals, and be thankful for our full bellies”. Ceta wasn’t always entirely satisfied with the answers that Kohola provided, but Ceta had inherited her mother’s patience and so she learned to accept the answers knowing that she’d understand more about the world when she was older.

Ceta spotted a sea gull circling overhead. It called out and Ceta thought maybe the gull was talking to her, but she knew it was probably calling to its friends about some delicacy it had spotted. Ceta wished she could talk “sea gull”, but she couldn’t easily mimic the screeching cries of the gull with her sweet, young voice so she whispered songs to herself instead. Ceta loved music and her mother told her she inherited that from her father, Chord. Ceta had no reason not to believe Kohola, but Ceta hadn’t seen her father in months, and she could barely remember the sound of his voice. Ceta had only her mother’s word as proof but that was the soundest proof of all, really.

Ceta’s parents met in Hawaii. Kohola would spend the winters entertaining passengers on cruise ships. The passengers clapped and cheered at the enthralling ways in which she could move her strong body in a display of dance. On days when the ships were docked, Kohola would explore around the islands and it was on one of those days that she met Chord. He was immediately taken with her.  He would sing to her in that slow, low voice of his and she would sway her splendid body to the music that came from some profound place inside of him. They would scout the shorelines together, sunning their backs and enjoying the warmth on their bellies as they swam in the salty water. But love is like salt; sometimes salt preserves but sometimes it erodes even the strongest of foundations. By the time Kohola realized she was pregnant, Chord had disappeared for the season and it wasn’t until nearly a year later that she saw him again.

When Kohola presented Ceta to Chord he showed little interest in either of them but Kohola softened the blow by filling Ceta’s world with love and tender care. Once, Kohola took Ceta to hear Chord sing. Even from a distance, Ceta could hear her father’s voice wash over her in warm waves that made her feel drowsy and wistful. “Why doesn’t dad want to know me?”, Ceta  whispered to  Kohola. “It’s in his nature”, Kohola said, which was a phrase she used often but that was the first time she’d said it to Ceta and it confused her with its newness. Ceta tried to press Kohola for more, but Kohola told her to be grateful for the love in her life. “Be grateful for your Aunties. Be grateful for your cousin, Nova. Be grateful for the light of the full moon”.  Ceta wanted practical answers, but she sensed that maybe the not-knowing that hurt her also hurt Kohola so, instead, she whispered to her mother in the dark about how much she loved her cousin Nova, and her Aunties, and most especially how much she loved Kohola.

Something about Chord’s song sounded simpler the last time Kohola heard it. She didn’t know whether his songs had changed or she had. Maybe it was both. Kohola tried not to think about it. Instead, she busied herself with raising her daughter and being grateful that she was so close to her own sisters and niece. She would never be truly alone or without love because she was surrounded by other strong females–family that would love her, protect her, help her raise her daughter just as she helped raise and love her niece. It was better to focus on the daily moments of joy.

Kohola waved to Ceta as way of checking in. Ceta waved back, happily splashing and exploring. The noise of a nearby speed boat startled them both but it quickly veered off in a different direction and soon the only sounds were ocean sounds again and Kohola and Ceta were content to enjoy the warmth of the sun. Kohola was glad to have this special place that she could bring Ceta so that she could enjoy the same sights, and exploration, and food that Kohola had enjoyed when she was young. Kohola noticed the changes in this special place, though. Every year there was more garbage bobbing around in the ocean and littering the beaches. The temperatures were changing and some of her favourite types of seafood were becoming scarce. Kohola didn’t mind so much for herself—she had faced change and loss before–but she sometimes worried about what the future would hold for Ceta and Nova. Would they continue to spend summers here in the future? Would they bring their own sons and daughters here? Kohola’s thoughts were interrupted by Ceta who had returned to her and was full of whispers and giggles about all of the things she had seen that day. As always, Ceta was hungry.

Soon, Ceta’s aunts and cousin would join her and Kohola for an evening meal. It was such a pleasure to be together at this time of day with the sun low in the sky and reflecting off the water in great orange waves of light like ribbons rippling out to sea.  Kohola lifted a flipper and waved Ceta closer, inviting her to nurse. She arched her long back so that her dorsal fin glistened in the sun. As Ceta drank, Kohola continued to ponder change, and the future, and her blessings.

Salton Crepe & Tortilla Maker

Crepes are a much-loved food in our house, in savoury and sweet varieties. Recently, I keep seeing/hearing about crepe cakes (okay, mostly from ASMR videos I watch—if you love ASMR check out SAS ASMR on youtube) and I really want to try one but I haven’t been able to find one in my area. So, I decided I’d try to make my own!

I’ve made crepe before, years ago, and I remember that they took some finesse and having a proper pan really helped. With my hands often being stiff and not cooperating, it seemed as though crepe making might become a frustrating venture but I decided to look for a good pan on Amazon, anyway. In your head, please cue the sound of the heavens opening and angel singing because I found the most amazing  tool for making crepes. I cannot rave enough about how easy this thing is to use. Perfect crepes every time! It does also make tortillas, according to the package, but I haven’t tried it for that so I’ll stick to its crepe-making abilities for this post.

If you love crepes this is THE thing to have and you can find it here at Amazon:

Here is what comes in the box:

For my first attempt at a crepe cake I decided to go with a lemon lavender honey cream cake. I doubled this recipe for the crepe batter:

The double recipe made about 25 crepes using this crepe maker (I admit I lost count at 21 when I started assembling my crepe cake). I also added a tablespoon of vanilla extract to the doubled batter since I was going to be making a sweet crepe cake.

One thing of note is that I often do read the comments on recipes before making them, because knowing how other people’s tweaks helped them is often useful information. A few people mentioned being confused about mixing the flour and eggs together and that had sounded strange to me as well so I did what many others did; I mixed all the wet ingredients together and them added in the dry ingredients. I was incredibly pleased with the results and I will use this recipe again.

The rest is so simple that, literally, a child could do it (one that is old enough to understand not to touch the hot black surface of the crepe maker, of course). This is also something that could be done from a seated position if you’re in a seated mobility device or you need to sit for any reason.

You plug the base into the wall and leave the black and white “paddle” piece on it to heat up with the on/off switch in the “on” position. It heats up quickly and from there you are a production line of crepe-y goodness! Pour some crepe batter into the shallow dish provided, dip the hot black side of the paddle into the batter and count to 3, turn it over and place it back onto the base. The edges of the crepe will begin to curl up and that’s your cue to turn it upside down onto a plate and return to the dipping stage. In no time, you have a stack of crepes.

I juiced one lemon into a mug and removed any seeds before adding two heaping tablespoons of lavender honey from Planet Bee Honey Farm and putting that into the microwave for 45 seconds. It melted into a liquid.

I assembled my cake by putting a crepe on the plate, brushing it all over with the lemon honey mixture, topping with a layer of stiffly whipped cream, another crepe, another brush of lemon honey, a thin layer of whipping cream, repeat, repeat, repeat. I think in the end my cake was 18 or 19 layers. I was focused more on the task than the counting.

Next, I put the whole cake back in the fridge for about half an hour to firm everything up. When I cut into it with a sharp knife it cut easily and I was impressed with the results. It was tasty and beautiful!

Above: I garnished plates with lemon and strawberries.

Above: look at all those luscious, creamy layers!

Everyone loved it and I will definitely make it again soon. I’ve had two household members request that the next one involves Nutella and I’ll be happy to oblige!





Homemade Energy Bites

I’ve been looking for some “energy bar” types of grab-and-go snacks but the commercial bars I’ve tried have either tasted bad to me, been loaded with sugars, or make me feel bloated and unwell. For that reason, I decided to try making my own and I’m glad I did. I will definitely play around with my recipe and incorporate more protein into the next batch, but these are tasty and satisfying. I didn’t follow any specific recipe; rather, I read a whole bunch of recipes online to get a general idea about how to make these types of bars come together and then winged it. The following is what I came up with.

You will need:

  • 3 cups pitted dates
  • 5 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1.5 cup mixed nuts (I used peanuts, walnuts, cashews)
  • 1/3 cup flax seed
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 2 scoops (31g/each) vanilla why isolate protein powder. You can use any flavour or brand  of protein powder you like.
  • Parchment paper and your choice of pan or tray (I would have preferred to use an 8×8 or a 9×9 baking dish but I don’t have one that small so I used my 9×13 and only spread the mixture to just over half the pan.)
  • Food processor (I purchased this one from Amazon: )


  1. Add the pitted dates and the coconut oil to the food processor and blend until it’s a smooth, thick paste.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice. Blend again to incorporate.
  3. Add all the nuts and flax seed. Blend until they are as fine as you would like them. I blended mine to a very small consistency.
  4. Add unsweetened cocoa, whey protein powder, and mini chocolate chips (the choc chips are optional and you could substitute with cacao nibs, dried cherries or blueberries, coconut flakes, etc.). Blend again until everything is well incorporated.
  5. Line your tray or pan with parchment paper.
  6. Pour the mixture into the parchment-lined pan and spread to fill an 8×8 or 9×9, or approximate using a larger pan like I did. (You could also roll them into balls and roll them in something like dried coconut, cocoa powder, etc. but the pan method is quick and easy.)
  7. Set in the fridge for an hour or more.

Above: Blended dates, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice.

Above: All ingredients blended together.

Above: Mixture spread into a parchment-lined pan.


I cut mine into 36 squares with each square having 103 calories and 2.8 grams of protein (calories and protein are the two main things I’m meant to be tracking right now). Depending on what ingredients you use, your nutritional values will vary.

I’ve been storing mine in an airtight container in the fridge. They are tasty, so easy to grab, and I know exactly what is in them! Next time I make them, I plan to add more protein powder by adding another 2-4 scoops of the whey isolate to the recipe but that’s because I would like them to pack more protein punch for my personal dietary needs. In Canada, we have something called an Eatmore Bar and these remind me a bit of those!

This is the first time I’ve owned a food processor and I’m quite happy with the one I purchased (link up in the “You will need” list). It is noisy, which my dogs don’t appreciate, and I do need to keep my hand firmly on the top when it’s blending very heavy/dense items to keep it still but for the price this food processor was a great investment, for me. It’s easy to operate, easy to clean (dishwasher safe), and I look forward to trying it out for all kinds of recipes!


Pickled Red Onion

In the Nova Scotia section I posted about a restaurant called Rhubarb where I had the best chick pea salad I’ve ever eaten, and it included pickled red onion. I wanted to attempt a version of the salad at home so I pickled my own red onion for the first time. I didn’t follow a single internet recipe. Rather, I read a bunch and then just sort of winged it. The pickled onions turned out quite nice and I still have some left, that I think I might use on some grilled burgers this weekend. Here is the recipe I cobbled together.


  • 1 medium-sized red onion
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp. course ground black pepper


  • 2 x 250ml canning jar or other sealing container (or whatever sized containers you prefer that equal 500mls in total).

Note: I sometimes give out homemade canned goods to friends at Christmas time or as hostess gifts. For this recipe, I’d probably use these as they are such a nice little size!


  • Slice the onion into any shapes and sizes that you please. Consistency of size and shape is up to you. I will call my cuts “rustic” ;o)
  • Divide the onion pieces between the two 250 mls jars and set aside.
  • Add all of the other ingredients to a small pot, give them a stir, and put on the stove at medium heat. Bring to a boil so that all the sugar dissolves.
  • Once it has come to a boil and the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and immediately pour the liquid into the jars with the onion in them.
  • Seal, let cool, and then transfer to the fridge.

The red pickled onion will be ready to eat after 24 hours but should also last for weeks in the fridge!

This recipe resulted in lightly pickled onions. I will likely try it again in the future but I think I will double the vinegar, or maybe play around and try other types of vinegars. It really is a matter of personal taste so play around with this and have fun.  If you come up with some flavourful additions to this recipe, please comment and let me know! I was thinking that adding some hot pepper might be a nice addition for those who like things spicy.

Here’s how the onion looked after 24 hours. So translucent and pretty!

As for the chick pea salad, I rinsed and drained a can of chick peas, cut up some cucumber and cherry tomatoes, added some roasted chick peas for crunch (  ), chopped up some of the pickled red onions, and I tossed that all together with some Kraft honey mustard salad dressing. I have to admit that it wasn’t quite as good with the roasted chick peas as it was with the deep fried ones that the restaurant, Rhubarb, makes, but probably it was a little healthier and it was still very tasty.

Kraft Creamy Honey Mustard (You can find this at Amazon here: ) :

I would eat this salad again for sure. As you can see, below, I served it with some cold, sliced steak that I had grilled the night before, with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. It’s a great dinner for a hot summer night when you don’t want to heat up the house.

Happy pickling to you all!








Candied Strawberries (Tanghuru)

According to the internet, Tanghuru (candied fruit), is a popular street food sold in Asian countries like China and Taiwan. I first watched them being made on a youtube channel that I enjoy called SAS ASMR, and decided to try them at home. They are super sweet and not something I would make frequently but they are an incredibly easy, tasty treat.

Just look at that shiny, happy snack!

One of the things I appreciate about making this is that it doesn’t require a lot of time and much of it can be done sitting down, if standing for long periods is difficult for you. For minimal effort you get an impressive, gorgeous result.

Please note that the hard candy shell may be a problem for some kinds of dental work or dentures, so keep that in mind.

Kitchen items you will require:

  • A small, heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan
  • Skewers
  • A candy thermometer (I prefer one that clips onto the side of the pot). They are inexpensive and this is very similar to the one I use, and can be purchased through Amazon:
  • Parchment paper


  • 1 pound strawberries (or other fruit such as pineapple chunks, grapes, pitted cherries, orange segments…)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup water


1. Stir the sugar, corn syrup, and water together in the pot and put on the stove on medium-high heat. Clip the thermometer to the side to monitor the temperature.

2. While the mixture is heating up (it takes approx. 15 mins), wash and pat dry the strawberries and remove the leafy tops.

3. Skewer the strawberries. I’ve done 3 strawberries to a stick but find the dipping process easier with only 2.

4. Lay out a piece of parchment paper (approx. 13inx9in) either on the counter or on a rack or cookie sheet.

5. As soon as the sugary mixture reaches 300F/150C remove the candy themometer, turn off the stove, and remove the pot from the heat.

6. Immediately begin dipping your fruit skewers, one at a time, to coat the fruit and lay them on the parchment paper.

It is important that you eat these treats immediately. After about half an hour the sugar shell will begin to separate away from the fruit that will leak its juices.

Additional Pictures:

Sugary mixture cooking on the stove (above).

Fresh, washed strawberries (above).

Two strawberries to a stick (above.)

Happy eating!

Tip: You will probably find that any remaining sugar mixture in your pot solidifies very quickly and becomes nearly impossible to remove. Fill the pot about halfway with water and boil on the stove. The diluted sugar mixture will become liquid and can be poured down the drain and the pot can then be put into a dishwasher or easily washed by hand.