Fracking Friday: Free Giveaway Today

My first novel is a Christmas-themed one that follows the magi of the original Christmas. It’s called Seeker of Stars and is FREE to download today: http://www.gospelebooks.net/free-christian-ebooks/thanksgiving-freebies-david-c-cooknew-growth-press.html

I’m struggling to figure out what’s fracked about this. Nope. Nothing. Not fracked at all.

Here’s a report, however, that shows that fracking is not the benign, clean alternative some people promise it to be: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/nov/28/fracking-risk-compared-to-thalidomide-and-asbestos-in-walport-report

Wednesday Night Soup: Three Sisters Soup

I didn’t plan this but this week’s recipe–Three Sisters Soup–is in fact the soup that Daisy serves the week of American Thanksgiving, which is this week.

Ever since I heard about the ways in which cultures around the world have figured out how to make complimentary proteins from non-meat-based foods, and how they have understood companion planting, I’ve been in awe of folk wisdom and the attention people have paid to what nourishes.

The three sisters crops are squash, beans and corn, three crops grown together by First Nations people. Here’s a lovely article that explains why and where they were grown together. Essentially, not only do the three form a complete protein but the squash leaves shade and keep moisture in for the corn, while the corn provides a sturdy natural pole for the beans to climb. This also works well as a metaphor for community, which is what Daisy gathers around herself, especially at Thanksgiving.

This is my second favourite of the soups, and it’s one that has never failed me yet. It’s hearty without being heavy, and delicious at this time of year. It’s also quite quick to make.

Three Sisters Soup

In a soup pot, add 1 Tbsp olive oil, and sauté 1 stalk celery, chopped, 4 cloves garlic, 1 onion, chopped, 1 tsp thyme. Add 2 cups cooked pumpkin or winter squash, 2 cups corn (2 cobs), 1 cup black beans, cooked (or other legume), 4 cups vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer. Add a dash of Sriracha sauce (or other hot sauce) and a splash of lime juice, salt and pepper.

I also wanted to share with you a lovely video I found about making soup stock. It’s got some good tips.

SNOW DAY SPECIAL

So I am supposed to be reading from my book today and I’m not. This is a great opportunity for you because I’m doing a SNOW DAY SPECIAL: Buy a signed copy of Ithaca from me this weekend and it’s only $19 with shipping or $14 if you pick it up from me. I will also add a hand-written recipe of the soup of your choice from the book. Offer expires at 9 p.m. Sunday evening.

Fracking Friday: You Can’t Get There From Here

I have a reading scheduled tomorrow in Ithaca but I can’t get there from here.

Almost halfway between Ithaca and my house is the city of Buffalo, New York, which is currently digging its way out from under eight feet of snow, with a forecast of unseasonably warm temperatures and rain ahead. We’ve sadly postponed our visit.

In many ways, though, the reason for the postponement only serves to underline the need for us to think very seriously about climate change and our role within it. I’ve been watching the Weather Network all week as we’ve tried to make our decision. They have a nightly feature called something like Freaks of Nature, where they show flooding and extreme weather around the planet. Increasingly we are seeing what climate change models predicted: more and more extreme weather patterns, precisely like the one in Buffalo this week.

At one point in Ithaca, Daisy is distracted in a conversation with a friend. She is standing in the grocery store parking lot and he’s idling his car while he talks to her. She thinks of the fossil fuel being burned as they talk. We need to think about the fossil fuel we burn unnecessarily.

A big frustration I have with those who decry climate change is the fact that at the core is an unwillingness to make change. They are determined to disprove clear evidence–in order that they don’t have to change.

My son is playing for a sports team that practises more than an hour from our house. I insist that we carpool, that we visit people or coordinate these trips with other activities–that we make the fossil fuel really count. I say put on a sweater or wool socks, rather than turn up the heat.

I’m not saying sit around and shiver. I’m not saying we can’t drive to Toronto. I’m saying we need to be mindful of where we idle our tanks obliviously.

Wednesday Night Soup: Hot and Sour Soup

It’s cold and flu season–and one of those pesky viruses has caught me. I’ve had a cold for nearly a week now. The person I caught it from still has it too. Whatever it is, it’s persistent. I’ve been making lots of fresh juices, drinking copious amounts of herbal tea and sipping soup. Yesterday I made a spicy chicken vegetable broth. Today I finished off the white bean and tarragon soup I made last week.

If I really wanted to be well, however, I should probably try this Hot and Sour Soup. Some people say that Hot and Sour Soup is the cure for the common cold.

Give it a try and see what you think:

Hot and Sour Soup

In a medium saucepan, saute in 1 Tbsp oil, 5-6 sliced mushrooms, 1 Tbsp fresh ginger and 1 clove garlic, minced. Add 1 tsp-1 Tbsp sriracha (depending on how bold you are!), along with 4 cups vegetable broth, 3 Tbsp soy sauce, and ¼ cup white vinegar. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add.3 oz firm tofu, chopped, 4 cups spinach and 1 egg, beaten and drizzled into boiling soup. Chop 2 scallions and sprinkle on top along with a drizzle of sesame oil.

A couple of other notes: I’m going to be in the City of Ithaca, NY this weekend for a reading at Buffalo Street Books on Saturday at 3 p.m. I haven’t been there for more than a year so I am excited to go back. Anything you want to know while I’m there?

Also, if you live in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, you might be interested in a fun Christmas venture I’m part of: KW Stocking Stuffers is something like an online Christmas bazaar where you can order interesting, locally made products for unique Christmas (or anytime) gifts. Among its products is my book, but I also recommend trying the various bone broths, made by a neighbour of mine. Soup is on the rise! Whether you make it yourself or buy it, I hope you will enjoy some today.

Be well!

Fracking Friday: Stop Being Paralyzed Into Inaction

This summer, with Ithaca coming out, I decided to say yes to a telemarketer. The cheerful telephone voice was calling from Bullfrog Power, Canada’s leading provider of renewable energy. I couldn’t write a book decrying the use of fossil fuels without taking some measures to say yes to greener energy.

A few weeks later, “The Bullfrog Buzz” arrived in my mailbox, and I glanced through it. What caught my eye was an interview with “Cleantech Investor, Advisor, Speaker, Author, Entrepreneur” Tom Rand about why we become paralyzed into inactivity when it comes to the environment, and what we can do.

In the interview, Rand says, “More threatening than climate change deniers, I think, is passive denial, where we accept the science and the numbers, yet we act every day as if they aren’t true. Our civilization faces an existential crisis and we keep ignoring it.”

I wanted to share some of the interview with you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2d9Qc4SKYA4. The audio isn’t great but it’s worth watching.

Toward the end of the article, he says, “The collective action problem is where there’s no real advantage for anyone to go first, and there’s no real harm for waiting for others to go first. The paradox is if nobody goes first, everybody is harmed.”

What are you going to do today?

If you’re available on Sunday afternoon (November 16), please join me at:

A Drop to Think

Novels and Knowledge, Soup and Spoken Word

The Waterloo Green Party invites you to a fun and enlightening chance to connect or re-connect while enjoying some delicious soup, engaging entertainment and learning a few things about water security and the risks associated with fracking for natural gas.

When: Sunday, Nov 16. 2PM to 5PM

Where: Waterloo Community Arts Centre, aka The Button Factory. 25 Regina St South.

On the main floor so it’s fully accessible. Admission is free to all. Come for a full afternoon of entertainment and food or just drop in when it’s convenient. We’d love to hear from you about whether we can expect you so we can make sure we have enough space and soup. Send you RSVPs and questions to Bryan (bryanizzard@gmail.com) or Stacey (sdanckert@gmail.com). 

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Susan Fish, local author of the recently published novel, Ithaca, will be sharing her story of her travels through Central New York where she learned about the attempts to establish a fracking industry there and the battle to prevent it by many of the residents, including Daisy, the fictional heroine of her novel. We’ll also be treated to a reading or two from the novel, and an opportunity to ask questions of the author.

Kevin Sutton is a spoken word artist, page poet, actor, playwright, workshop facilitator, activist, and community organizer. His poetic performance promises to motivate us all, to not just think about our place on the planet. but to take action to preserve it.

Soup, glorious soup, has an ongoing role in the novel Ithaca, and will play an important role in our day. Young graduates of Summer Chef School will help to prepare and serve several delicious soups based on Daisy’s recipes. Of course, we couldn’t prepare any of these soups without our presently potable water supply.

Wednesday Night Soup: White Bean and Tarragon

My husband has a theory that clementines carry disease. I don’t think he’s serious but if you pay attention, you will notice that just as those little orange spheres start arriving in grocery stores, so you will start hearing hacking and sniffling all around you. It’s cold and flu season–and that means it’s time for soup.

I met someone last weekend who said she had never made soup before. I reassured her that soup was forgiving and flexible. It can be stretched by adding water to feed a couple more people. It can be a good way of dealing with limp, forgotten vegetables in the fridge. At the core, though, soup is comfort: warmth on a cold night.

Here is one of my favourites. We served it at the book launch a few weeks ago and it was a hit. It’s simple and satisfying, and it’s an inexpensive source of good nutrients.

White Bean and Tarragon Soup

In a saucepan, melt 3 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp olive oil. Saute 1 onion, chopped, 1 carrot, chopped, 1 stalk celery, chopped, 3 cloves garlic, minced. Add 4 cups vegetable stock and 2 rinsed cans of white navy beans. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and let simmer. Add ¼ cup fresh tarragon, black pepper and salt to taste.

Fracking Friday: Fracking as Metaphor

Someone wrote to me recently and said: I know all about fracking. I live in Western Colorado, where fracking has been used for decades to extract natural gas. I should have been paying better attention to its metaphor possibilities.

For me, fracking is clearly something that works on various levels. I had already begun thinking about a novel with two women who lived together, for whom the worst things had happened. In Daisy’s life, it was the sudden death of her husband; in Lee’s case, it was the aftermath of retirement for a woman who had been a pioneer in her field. In both cases, the centre of their lives, what had been solid, was suddenly gone. When I started finding out about fracking, it felt like in many ways fracking paralleled my characters’ experiences—their lives had been suddenly and potentially dangerously been fractured from all that had been settled and good.

Fracking becomes a metaphor for sudden loss and change–something that happens that breaks apart the solid foundation in a wrenching way that leaves collateral damage behind. A reader who was widowed himself wrote to me to say, “I’m astonished how perceptively you’ve captured the essence and currents of bereavement and grief, the loneliness and longing, the resistance to newness and the hunger for it when it pokes its head around the corner, the self-discovery that emerges… I love how you wove the interplay of rock fracking and soul fracking.”

How about you? Where has your life been fracked? How do you move on? How does your experience of being fracked affect your environmental concerns?

Wednesday Night Soup: Apple-Cheddar-Onion Soup

I have to confess something: this is the best of the soups. It’s my personal favourite anyhow. At least some of the time.

This soup takes a bit of love. Sometimes it is the very best thing you’ve ever eaten and you want to eat the whole thing; other times it isn’t. I have no idea why.

In a saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp butter and sauté 2 peeled and chopped apples, 2 peeled and chopped onions, 1 carrot, shredded, ½ cup celery chopped, 1 tsp thyme, and 2 bay leaves. When softened add 3 Tbsp flour. Stir in 2-1/2 cups apple cider (or some apple cider and some hard cider). Turn up the heat until it’s bubbling and then turn the heat down. Add 2 cups milk, 1 cup grated old Cheddar cheese, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Don’t boil this soup once you’ve added the milk and cheese or it will separate.

By the way, I’m thinking about hosting a neighbourhood soup supper, like Daisy. How about you? What holds you back? For me, it’s the jumping dog and the unpredictable kids’ schedules. What makes me want to do it is that it worked for Daisy. Also, we only had seven kids show up at our door on Halloween (and three of them were babies!)–at this dark and cold time of year, a soup supper sounds like a great way to get to know the neighbours a bit better, doesn’t it?