Learning to Make Kombucha Pt. 3

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The kombucha experiment is coming along nicely! In my last post I showed my first batch of bottled tea and my first attempt at a secondary ferment with raspberries. The bottled tea was left out to carbonate but after 4 or 5 days the tea had remained pretty flat. It still tasted great, but it didn’t have the fizzy bubbles you get in store bought kombu. The raspberry bottle was much fizzier and overall more tasty, so this post is about how to get that fizz!

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Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

immortal-lifeRead for: Jezebelle Book Club Selection from November ’13 (I’m way behind)

Rating: 5/5

This book is fantastic. Henrietta Lacks was a tobacco farmer in the south who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the early 1950′s. During one of her biopsies the doctor at Johns Hopkins Hospital took a sample of her cancer cells and sent it to a lab to see if they could get them to grow. This was done without her knowledge or permission as consent was not required at the time. This event marked a major milestone in scientific history as those cells went on to perpetually reproduce in unprecedented quantities that allowed scientists to use them to develop vaccines and treatments for illnesses like HPV and polio. Those cells are still alive today. Henrietta died of an incredibly aggressive form of cancer shortly after the sample was taken, and no one in her family knew what really happened to her or about the existence of the cells for another 20 years.

This book is about the family Henrietta left behind and the impact of her cells on their lives. When HeLa became famous in the scientific community Henrietta’s identity was eventually leaked to the media and her children found out about it by accident. A can of worms was opened surrounding the notions of patient confidentiality, consent, and bioethics. Rebecca did an excellent job of researching the life of Henrietta Lacks and telling the story of her family. I won’t say anything more, you should just read this book. Now.

 

Adventures in Curry Cooking

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My winter goal is to teach myself how to cook Indian curries. Now that it’s getting chilly outside I have started to figure things out, starting with some of my favourites; dal makhani and matar paneer.

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Road Trip to Tofino, BC

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We are trying to keep up with our exploration of British Columbia and Vancouver Island, and this weekend we checked a big one off the list by visiting Tofino and Ucluelet. It was J’s birthday so we booked one night at the Duffin Cove Resort in downtown Tofino and made the drive over. We were warned to bring rain jackets but, with our “traveluck” at work (our made up word), it was gloriously sunny and clear both days which meant I got some really nice photos!

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^ The view from our waterfront room

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Learning About Mushrooms

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There are lots and lots of mushrooms here, and I’m super interested in learning about them. Sounds easy enough, but there are soo many different types of mushroom! It’s pretty overwhelming.

I bought a copy of Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest and I am slowly working my way through the different fungi. Above are all the different specimens I collected on ONE walk in the 707 Community Park. Have I figured any of them out yet? Um, no. But I have some hunches.

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Book Review: Wild

WildTP_Books-330Read for: FABClub Monthly Memoir for September ’14

Rating: 4/5

I am often pleasantly surprised when I end up enjoying a book that has been hyped up everywhere. I’m not sure what it is that makes me instantaneously suspicious of any book that makes it huge, but from time to time I read something that has been heavily recommended to me by every person and media outlet in the developed world and totally don’t see what all the fuss is about *cough*twilighttheluminariesorangeisthenewblack*cough* This year there have been some exceptions, including Gone Girl, The Glass Castle, and Wild.

Cheryl Strayed was 22 when her mother passed away, and she thought her life would never get back on track. Four years later she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail without any experience or training, and she wanted to do it SOLO. Being someone who suffers from a generalized anxiety disorder, this essentially horrifies me; being alone, the unfamiliar, night time and darkness, being in the middle of nowhere, and the deep woods all being items on my mental list of things that cause me to freak the f*ck out. I also have a strangely irrational fear of death by bear attack, but perhaps that’s a product of the region I grew up in. I digress. Cheryl Strayed is clearly a superhero because she tackles all this in a stride when she sets out with an incredibly over-sized pack and boots 1 size too small. Then she rocks the trail all the way to the end, at one point even having to travel in duct tape booties after losing her shoes over a cliff. Bow down to this woman, she deserves our applause for her resourcefulness and perseverance! Sure, she probably could have been a bit better informed and I’m almost positive there are people out there shaking their heads at her decision to surge ahead into something she was completed unprepared for, but she made it and her memoir of the experience was very well written and entertaining. I wish she had included some of her photos from the trail, but hey you can’t have everything. This one deserves the hype!