Saturday, February 21, 2009

A mini-Thanksgiving feast

I had to work this past Thanksgiving long weekend. (Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving a month earlier than Americans--I don't know why, maybe it's because the cold weather arrives sooner here.) So instead of a big traditional turkey feast, I made a quicker, smaller version using a cornish hen.

This cornish hen was stuffed with an apricot, sage, and mushroom bread stuffing. I served it with a baked butternut squash seasoned with salt and pepper and rosemary.

To round out this hearty Fall meal, I opened a bottle of the Silver Sage 2003 Sage Grand Reserve.

This is a truly unique wine. It's a Gewurztraminer fermented with wild sage leaves, so it has a semi-sweet crisp taste with aromas of sage and spice. It paired very well with the cornish hen.

Yesterday I attended a screening of Our Daily Bread at the Vancouver International Film Festival. This is a documentary that reveals the process of high-tech, mass production agriculture. There is no dialogue, only the camera follows workers at huge greenhouses, fields, and slaughterhouses. Some of it was quite disturbing to watch, but as a cook I feel that it's important for me to know where our food comes from. We are so far removed from any direct knowledge of food production--this documentary brings us face-to-face with our relationship to food, the earth and the mechanization of agriculture.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Why vote?

On the question of whether your vote counts-

Our city is pretty big. Each city council person represents about 50,000 residents. Several years ago our district was up for grabs. My wife was leaning one way, but as she approached the polling place changed her mind.

Turnout was low since it wasn't a major national election. I think around 8,000 votes were cast. The electronic results were "too close to call". Absentee and provisional ballots had to be manually counted. Still too close, a recount was required because of the very, very narrow margin. Finally one candidate called for a second recount.

Final result? The candidate Kitti voted for won by one vote. Her vote. She decided the election. You could also of course say that every person decided it, if any one who voted for the ultimate winner had voted the other way, the results would be different.

Yes, your vote counts. Always. It might not determine the winner or loser of that race, but it sends a message to the politicians. You care, you hold them accountable.

Think of this scenario:
If an elected official has some grant money to spend to beautify a single neighborhood. Do they spend it on a neighborhood with low voter turnout? Or high votor turnout? Bingo, whether the last election went their way in that neighborhood or not, having more people involved will make a difference.

I had an idea this summer but didn't follow through. Maybe I'll do it for the next election, probably a small local election. I'm going to make a difference on my block. Not the whole neighborhood, just my block. I'll get a copy of the votor roll and start walking the street with a stack of registration forms. At each house I'll ask, "is your registration info complete?" "Would you like to register" (if eligible and not currently registered)? I'll keep bugging until everybody is registered or refuses to speak to me again. Then the election approaches. I'll do the rounds again. "Are you going to be able to vote on election day?" "If you're not sure why not apply for an absentee ballot?" Then a few days before election once again. "Remember Tuesday is the election." "Did you send in your completed absentee ballot?"

I'm sure our street already has a pretty high turnout, but just think if some one on every street in the neighborhood did the same. We would have a voter density double the average. The politicians and parties would look at us and say "We better take care of those folks, they don't let an election slip by".

There's another thing too- Statistics on whether you vote are maintained and used by politicians. If you send a letter to your elected official and ask them to do something, you can bet the first thing their staff does is check to see if you vote. Then they decide whether to read your letter.