Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: coffee

White winter morning

This morning our world looks somewhat like this. Oh well, at least the days are getting longer. Not so you’d notice it yet, though.

Image by Pixaline from Pixabay 

It is -32° C outside, there is a fresh layer of pure white snow on the ground, 15cm of it. I have cleared the steps and walkways, plugged the car in and now it’s time for this:

Image by Melk Hagelslag from Pixabay

How I stay sane during a time of confinement

(Or at least try to)

  1. Talk to my cats. I know this probably sounds like I’m already losing it, but if there are not many people to talk to, cats are not a bad substitute. They are not persons, but they do have personalities, often a little eccentric, Both of ours are largely Siamese and they like to talk. Pookie is my Plautdietsch cat: he has blond hair, blue eyes and speaks a language I don’t understand.
  2. Drink coffee. I like A. L. van Houtte French Roast, from k-cups. I didn’t really like coffee before we went to Montreal in 1993, but driving by the van Houtte roastery on the way to church and inhaling the aroma changed that.
  3. Talk to people. That involves picking up the phone and dialing their number. It used to be hard to find my friends at home, but now they are in the same boat as I am and ready to pick up the phone and talk.
  4. Write to people. I get lots of impersonal emails and texts every day, I wish for more personal messages. Maybe other people do, too. There’s no better time than now to send a personal note.
  5. Exercise. I have a pedometer app on my phone and try to get 10,000 steps four or five days a week. At this time of year most of those steps are from jumping on my rebounder.  If our driveway ever dries I’ll do more walking outdoors.
  6. Try not to think about how late spring is this year. Complaining isn’t good for the state of my mind.
  7. Be thankful for every little spark of beauty in this dreary time.
  8. Be realistic about the Covid-19 virus. Ignore stories about conspiracy theories and quack cures.
  9. Find something interesting to read that takes me to a place and time where there is no Covid-19.
  10. Use this time to strengthen and deepen my relationship with God.

Misadventures of the kitchen klutz

I’m beginning to think I might be the fool for the whole month of April, not just one day. For the first part of this story please read my post from April 1.

The Thursday after that coffee fiasco, I decided to try baking a loaf of bread in my new to me breadmaker. I’ve been looking at breadmakers for years, dreaming of being able to make the perfect loaf of bread in my own home. As I looked, I would ask myself “How much do you really want to spend for a pipe dream?” After a while, I started looking at second hand machines. A few weeks ago I found one at Value Village that had a full size bread pan, the original instruction and recipe booklet and looked like it had hardly been used.  The sticker said $14.99, it was seniors day which meant 30% off for an old codger like me. With GST the price came to $11.00 and I thought I could risk that much on my pipe dream.

So, last Thursday I carefully measured  the ingredients, added them in the proper order, closed the lid and pushed the start button. Three and a half hours later I had a fresh loaf of bread. It smelled like bread should smell, looked pretty much like a loaf of bread, but seemed quite a bit more dense than what I had expected.

A light came on in my mind. I remembered how my mother carefully sifted and measured the flour when she baked bread. I had just scooped the flour out of the bag with the measuring cup. By doing that, I had packed the flour in and got quite a bit more than I should have. We ate part of that loaf – it wasn’t too bad; the rest went to the birds.

Yesterday I tried again. The recipe called for the liquid ingredients to be a little above room temperature, so I put two cups of milk and a cup of water into a measuring cup and miked then enough to take the chill off. Then I measured the flour, much more carefully this time, four cups of white, two cups of whole wheat. This time the dough rose – and rose – and rose, to the point of raising the lid of the breadmaker.

I went for the mail and when I returned there was an acrid smell in the house and smoke rising from the breadmaker. I pulled the plug. The dough had made its way over the edge of the pan and down the sides, until it came into contact with the electric element down below. I cleaned up the mess and will leave the breadmaker to air out a few days until I try again.

In between trying to make bread, last Saturday I tried the upside down coffee mug trick again. Both times when I did that I was using a mug from a family reunion. It is perfectly cylindrical in shape, the handle looks the same either way, and because of the dark blue colour the indentation on the bottom can look like the inside of the mug if one isn’t fully awake. That little indentation doesn’t hold much coffee, the rest travels to places it shouldn’t. You see, what I really need is a cup of coffee to wake me up before I make that morning coffee. Being a mere mortal, I don’t have that option.

My wife is somewhat bemused by all this, but willing to let me continue my experimentation. I have discovered that wives are much more tolerant of manly mishaps in the kitchen if they are not expected to clean up the resulting mess.

Oh, I think I discovered the problem with yesterday’s bread making experiment: the recipe called for a quarter cup of water and I used a full cup. I still believe that this is going to work – some day. I can’t guarantee that there won’t be any more mishaps on the road to that perfect loaf of bread.

April’s fool

First thing this morning I went to the kitchen and prepared the coffee maker to make my morning coffee. Then I went to the office and read my French Bible for morning devotions. I could hear the coffee gurgling into the mug as I read, but when I went to get my coffee I saw the mug had filled to overflowing and there was coffee all over the counter. How can that be? Our K-Cup machine only holds a cup of water.

I cleaned up the mess and made a second cup, turning the mug right side up this time. Well, what do you expect? It’s April 1 and I’m the fool.

Squirrel cage economy

Twenty-five years ago I took a course taught by a man who had grown up in India and who had travelled the world. He talked of seeing how coffee, tea and sugar were grown by dirt poor peasant farmers. He described the steps in getting these products to the multinational companies that then processed them for world markets. Then he said: “Enjoy your coffee, but remember all the people who have worked so hard and earned so very little so that you could have it.”

This morning I had coffee with Carole Thomas, a lady from our area who owns a farm in Costa Rica and spends over half the year there. She grows black pepper and cacao and buys coffee from a neighbouring farmer and sells these products here in Canada, largely through the Saskatoon Farmers Market.

Through talking to Carole, and also from other sources, I am beginning to think that fair trade coffee may not be quite what it purports to be. For one thing, it costs a subsistence farmer an enormous amount of money to join the fair trade program and become certified. And then, they may not necessarily get any more for their coffee than if they sold it to the private merchants, though the fair trade association may offer a guaranteed price. One other concern that comes up is that the fair trade program doesn’t necessarily buy all of a framer’s production and pays the same, no matter what the quality of the coffee. Therefore a farmer may tend to sell his best coffee to a private merchant for a premium price and sell the poorer quality beans to the fair trade association for their guaranteed price.

That doesn’t really sound like it will ever help the poor farmers to rise above subsistence level farming. I was reminded once again of something Dorothy Sayers wrote during the Second World War:

“It may well seem to you – as it does to some of my acquaintances – that I have a sort of obsession about this business of the right attitude to work. But I do insist upon it, because it seems to me that what becomes of civilization after this war is going to depend enormously on our being able to effect this revolution in our ideas about work. Unless we do change our whole way of thought about work, I do not think we shall ever escape from the appalling squirrel cage of economic confusion in which we have been madly turning for the last three centuries or so, the cage in which we landed ourselves by acquiescing in a social system based upon Envy and Avarice.

“A society in which consumption has to be artificially stimulated in order to keep production going is a society founded on trash and waste, and such a society is a house built upon sand.”

Dorothy Sayers, Letters to a Diminished Church

I think we’re further than ever from escaping from the squirrel cage, principally because envy and avarice are still the driving force of the world economy. What would it do to the world economy if individuals would renounce envy and avarice, buy products that are the fruit of honest labour, rather than flashy mass produced items made of dubious ingredients in far away lands by almost slave labour?

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