Saturday, June 25, 2011

Chinese Dumplings and Rex Wyler

On Friday I really figured out why I love the concept of community kitchens.

Diana, one of our wonderful kitchen coordinators, had brought the makings for shrimp chinese dumplings and stirfry. We supplemented with fresh harvest from our garden: chives, garlic scapes, Su choi. Some of us prep the filling, while others of us knead the dough, under open skies out in the sunshine. My dumpling dough rolls are fat, "just like how my mother makes them, Zhang Jun tells me) We forgot to bring rolling pins, so we scrub a water bottle and use that instead, which works fine. Evra, who is under two, helps squash the dough balls. We make a production line: roll a ball, squash flat, roll thin, fill with shrimp mix, fold and seal. Jenny makes perfect dumplings with fluted edges.

The dumplings go into a big pot of boiling water, where they bob around and then disappear inside a thick clay pot. When we eat them, they are steaming hot.

Zhang Jun tells us that dumpling sauces are very specific to different regions in China: in the north: garlic and vinegar; in the south: soy sauce and ginger. Her father breaks with tradition: vinegar, sugar, soy sauce AND ginger. Unheard of. on this particular dumpling eating event, we are dipping our dumplings in sesame oil, vinegar, and sugar--"and that's ok", assures Zhang Jun. Heck, we are cooking on a camping stove, after all!

The dumplings are fantastic, of course, and not just my belly gets filled.

On a related note, we just celebrated Opening Day at the brand new Farmer's market at the Unitarian Church of vancouver (Oak and 49th). In true Unitarian style, there was plenty of meaning packed into the occasion. Rex Wyler (founder of Greenpeace and Hollyhock Centre), Andrea Reimer (City Councillor, Executive Director of WCWC) and Mary Forstbauer (organic farmer, President of the BC Farmer's Market Association) all spoke at the ceremony. Rex had this to say, and it made me think of our Growing Eden:

We need to understand that these random changes, these attempts that we make in our families, in our homes, in our neighbourhoods, these things that we do-- we don't know how it's all going to turn out. And here's where faith comes in.

I have faith. What I have faith in nature. And I have faith in our nature. That there are deep seated instincts and feelings that we have for each other, cooperation, compassion,...but I trust these instincts. I do not necessarily trust our ability to design the future. What I do trust is our ability to make changes, to do the best we can, to leave this legacy of change. Because I tell you, we are not going to be saved by the global market. We are going to be saved by communities here. Our children and our grandchildren, they are going to benefit, not because they have cheap goods from around the world, or because they can get food from far away-- they are going to survive because we have built the institutions that allow them to localize and be self sufficient.

Big changes are coming. Big changes. And I believe this too. That we can have richer, more rewarding, way happier lives with way less. It's not the stuff that makes us happy.


  1. Thanks, Jen, for wise words. For me today they provide great guidance as I am about to face dealing with the remains of my "old" life, cluttered with possessions, left behind now for simpler living. So so happy I found you, the garden and the wonderful community you have created around the garden.

  2. I concur. Less is more.
    Society consumes too much nowadays....