Coco&Cowe

Ruby by Cynthia Bond

3/30/2015

ruby.cover

In February, I was looking for my next book and Ruby by Cynthia Bond kept popping up on lists of “Best Reads for Black History Month” – it was being compared to one of my all time favourites, Beloved by Toni Morrison, so I grabbed a copy and jumped right in. None of the blurbs or reviews had prepared me … Ruby is the most beautifully written and completely disturbing novels I have read in a long time.

The story takes place in a small town in East Texas in the 1950’s and centres around 42 year-old Ruby Bell. Once considered “the kind of pretty it hurt to look at”, the Ruby we first meet has become the local lunatic: she is filthy, half-feral, and living alone in squalor while the whole community looks the other way. On the other side of town, Ephram Jennings is a soft-spoken, sweet-natured man who is overlooked by his neighbours too, just in a different way. Ephram remembers Ruby as the lovely girl she used to be and is the only one willing to see past her madness and offer any real help.

As Ephram and Ruby cautiously reconnect, we learn about the hateful things that have happened in that small town. This is what leads to her mind unraveling, and is where the novel gets really dark and uncomfortable. Racism, exploitation, and human trafficking are at the root of this story, and at times it was overwhelming – so be warned, there are some traumatic moments in Ruby. On the other hand, these are things that actually happen, then and now, and the author based this book on her own family and personal experiences. So while some of it is difficult, I will paraphrase the book itself here and say that if someone is brave enough to live it, the least we can do is listen.

In some ways Ruby is a modern horror story but is also a love story and a tale about finding hope in the smallest, most unexpected places. Tiny moments of courage and kindness keep the narrative afloat and the thing that ties it all together is Cynthia Bond’s exceptional writing – I was hooked from start to finish. Bond plays with themes of oppression and possession in a world bursting with natural and supernatural elements and she has populated this world with fully realized characters that you come to love – or, in some cases, really, really hate. Ruby is an amazing, affecting read and I highly recommend it and it seems Oprah agrees because this was recently selected as her latest Book Club pick! **

What have you read lately that you found inspiring? I’m looking for some lighter fare for spring…

Xo,

Gayna

link lovin’

3/29/2015

Our #BetterFoodForAll Mission with Sobeys

3/26/2015

jalapeno-lime-tacos

 

I love to eat out.  A lot.  Trying a new restaurant is pretty top on my list of favourite things to do.  But I also love to cook, to play with recipes and remix ingredients so when Sobeys asked me to get involved with the Better Food For All mission I was stoked.  The challenge, go out to some of my favourite restaurants, pick a dish and find a way to remake it in my own kitchen.

The one rule I try to stick to when I’m at home is that any meal I whip up be as healthy as possible.  Though I thought it would be fun to remake truffle parmesan fries from Bymark (it’s a meal, swear), I decided to head over to my ultimate healthy food spot, Fresh.  Fresh has been around in Toronto since 1999 serving up the most delicious vegan cuisine long before it was cool to be vegan.  Its founder, Ruth Tal, has become a dear friend of mine and puts so much care and passion into her menus that I knew paying homage to this Toronto mecca was a must.

So what would I remake from her killer new menu that was healthy yet satisfying, good for the whole family and accessible enough that you could get all of the ingredients from your local Sobey’s?  TACOS!  Obviously tacos.  Though it’s a toss up between the squash tacos and the jalapano lime ones as to which are my fave, because this is a healthy food mission I chose the latter.

I didn’t do much to mess with this genius dish because you really shouldn’t mess with perfection.  To make it even more nutrient packed I added avocado (because what is a taco without avocado) replaced the whole wheat shell with a corn one and added some julienne carrots at the end for a little added crunch.  You can also eat it without the shell all together!

Though this recipe has a few parts, they are all worth it and don’t take too long.  The tofu can be marinated a day ahead removing a step the day of which works for a busy mumma like me.  Plus all of these mini recipes can be consumed alone or in conjunction with other recipes because they’re so damn delicious!  Jalapeno lime dressing, I swear you can put that **** on anything!  You can also use the vegan mayo without the adding the jalapenos and cilantro for a great mayo alternative.

ingredients

So after further ado,

Jalepeno Lime Tacos

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3/26/2015

travel tuesday: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

3/24/2015

all-inclusive

I recently visited Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. Well, scratch that. I went to a resort in Punta Cana and did not really see the country!

As most of you know from either reading my posts over the years or via Instagram, traveling is a love and passion of mine; I have been very fortunate to visit some amazing places. I had done the whole resort thing years ago with my family and I have always had great memories from those vacations. I haven’t been to an “all-inclusive resort” in a good 10 years or so and was curious to try one out again. A lot of my traveling last year was a bit tiring (I went to Peru, Europe and some places in the USA). Work had also been very busy so I was excited to just get some sun, relax and hangout with my friends.

punta cana

Some trip highlights:

o   The weather was amazing every day, always sunny! I got my tan…ummm more like burn on! But, I’m golden-y brown now so it all worked out.

o   The resort was really pretty. The ocean was so blue and seeing all the tropical flowers around the resort everyday made me so happy.

o   I was able to catch up on sleep! I LOVE naps

o   I really enjoyed hanging out by the pool and drinking piña coladas with my sister and my friends! J

o   It was great to get away and recharge in the warmth, especially since it was really cold back in Toronto.

punta cana

punta cana

Some trip low lights:

o   Doing the same thing day in and day out got too repetitive for me! I’m a somewhat adventurous girl and would have liked a change of activity and scenery.

o   Sadly there was not much of an opportunity to leave the resort. I really did not get to see the country or experience its culture, which to me is one the best parts of traveling.

 

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Contact Coco & Cowe

catriona@cocoandcowe.com