Sunday, March 27, 2011

Politics and Belonging

Michael Ignatieff has been on my radar for decades. During that time, I have managed to read twelve of his seventeen books of both fiction and non-fiction, and I will confess that we don’t always see eye to eye. Fair enough. I don’t even agree with myself all the time. Still, I agree with him for the most part. In fact, the opening quote in my own book, Some Become Flowers came from his: The Needs of Strangers

If we need love, it is for the reasons that go beyond the happiness it brings; it is for the connection, the rootedness, it gives us with others. Most of the things we need most deeply in life – love chief among them – do not necessarily bring us happiness. If we need them, it is to go to the depth of our being, to learn as much of ourselves as we can stand, to be reconciled to what we find in ourselves and in those around us

It is a rare person – let alone a politician - who explores serious questions with that depth of feeling and understanding. In Blood and Belonging: Journeys into the New Nationalism, published in 1993, he builds on this understanding of what we need both as individuals and as citizens. There is always a dance between these two kinds of needs. He explores the consequences of the kind of nationalism that is based upon ethnicity, religion and race – the kind of nationalism that we see boiling over in so many countries nearly two decades later - resulting in the deaths of thousands of innocent people. The concerns he explored in this book were prescient.

His argument was that we would all be safer if we could nurture a kind of civic nationalism that included everyone and was backed by democratically determined law, order and transparency. The questions he posed in this and other books are as valid today as they were then. How do we get there? How do we sustain this? How do we fix things when they get broken? In any culture, when narratives take root that are based on stories of us against them, using the approach of bringing out the guns usually deepens the divide. Eventually, there may be a truce, but the rage that has been fuelled by grief and loss usually festers on for a few more generations.

Blood and Belonging was written in conjunction with a BBC documentary series, but the book is not simply a mash-up of television-suitable images. It is also a book of ideas, and it is this fusion of ideas and images that elicits deep feeling and thought.

I recall crying as I read the passages where Ignatieff described visiting his grandparents' homelands in the Ukraine. He described running his hands over the cuts in the white marble of his great-grandfather's grave, and thinking of the fact that three million people in this region had died of hunger between 1931-32, and that a further two or three million more had been deported to Siberia. The cuts in this marble slab had come from butcher's knives. In the 1930s, the crypt had been turned into a slaughterhouse, a deliberate profaning of the dead which had actually been encouraged by the communist regime. It was part and parcel with the shift that they wanted people to make, a change in narrative. In spite of this, Ignatieff appreciated that the people that he was meeting with and listening to in Ukraine in the the early 1990s were rooted in their land in a way that he could never be, as a descendant of recent immigrants to Canada. He also came to understand: 

...what nationalism really is: the dream that a whole nation could be like a congregation; singing the same hymns, listening to the same gospel, sharing the same emotions, linked not only to each other, but to the dead buried beneath their feet.

If there is a common thread in all of Ignatieff’s books, it is that community is not built and sustained by fanning hurts and divisions, but rather it is kept alive and can only remain vital when there are people who are prepared to listen and to work across the fault lines of disagreements. I particularly appreciated his work in The Warrior’s Honour, in a chapter where he explored the Freudian notion of the narcissism of minor difference in the context of late 20th century feuds and wars. 

The transformation of brothers into enemies has puzzled the human imagination at least since Genesis. For Genesis begins the story of mankind not with a murder between strangers, but between brothers.

When I recently reread this passage, I asked myself: Why does this make me think of the Canadian House of Commons these days? How do we go about healing this dysfunction? One part of the answer from where I sit in the quiet town of Roberts Creek would be: not by keeping on with more of the same. On this score, I’ll give Ignatieff the last word, from his book The Needs of Strangers, a book which was published in 1984 when he was in his mid-30s:

...if you ask me what my needs are, I will tell you that I need the chance to understand and be understood, to love and be loved, to forgive and be forgiven, and the chance to create something which will outlast my life, and the chance to belong to a society whose purposes and commitments I share.

Yesterday, I received word that my son-in-law’s grandmother had died at 7:00 AM that morning. She was a woman whose generosity of spirit was frequently voiced in political action throughout her long and effective life. I wrote this to be, in some way, in honour of this life - Sarah Berkovitz, d. March 26, 2011.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

One Good Deed Deserves...

When it comes to researching those Irish farmers and merchants who were well enough off to be able to lease land, there is little that has been as rewarding for me as the Memorials of Deeds. It always makes me think of the movie All the President's Men – where Deep Throat said follow the money.

In my element - a few years ago.

It is all there in these parchment pages – promising new starts as well as failed endings – along with lots of ongoing squabbles. Arguments concerning boundaries and money can continue on for generations, and it is often this paper trail that is the only thing that reveals the clues about how all these folk fit together. It also helps to have read a great swat of Irish history. The back story of all the people we seek is usually affected by the larger cycles of economic boom and bust. The mid-1800s potato famine was only one of such episodes. It is always the least powerful that take the biggest hit – and often misfortune strikes hardest at those families where the loss of a male head of family has happened prematurely. Just keep looking. Clues will emerge.

In my decade or so of doing this kind of work, there are three things that I have learned.
  • Always look sideways, but don’t lose focus on your end goal. Bear in mind that gems are often in unexpected places.
  • Share what you have learned. Even if it isn’t useful to you, it may help others.
  • Enter what you have gleaned into at least one database. Write it all down. You won’t remember it all.
  • I said that there were three things that I have learned – but I lied. Here is a fourth. Always cross-reference your deeds data with other sources such as letters, newspapers, and parish records. That’s when the picture can really start to jump out in 3D.
I love my Moleskin notebook - but the closer I get to closing time, the more my writing degenerates.

Clearly,  I can never keep up with it all. Who can? There are pages upon pages in my diaries of notes that I still have to transcribe, and who knows when I will get to all that. This is why I am particularly grateful for the work that is shared on Nick Reddan’s site. It is a real beauty to navigate, once you get the hang of it. When I have the time, I will also transcribe some of my material to fit into his format.

There is always more to learn. When it comes to web design, I am probably something akin to a motor vehicle driver who only knows how to make right hand turns. There are whole neighbourhoods out there requiring left hand turns to get to that I have yet to navigate. Still, I recently added a new trick to my very limited arsenal. To those of you who know what they are doing with web pages, this discovery is laughable – but here it is. I converted a Word document to a pdf and then posted the pdf to my web site using Dreamweaver. It was stupidly easy. It is also stunningly effective.

Until then, I had always maintained a chart with links to all the deeds that I had transcribed, annotated, and posted but they only represented the proverbial tip of the iceberg. I had tried to break my other 300 page html document into chewable bits, but in spite of my best efforts, I would inevitably end up with a chart that went a mile sideways and out of sight of what could be seen on the computer screen. Then, I would pour myself a glass of wine and go do something else. I am at heart, quite sensible.

Earlier today though, I cleaned up one of these humungous html tables, converted it to a pdf, and – quite incredibly – was actually able to post it. Voila. Since there are some aspects of this table that are worth knowing before diving in, I will wait to add the link until the end of this article, so you won’t get to it until you are totally tuned up.

Firstly, I should warn you that this is one heck of an idiosyncratic table. Think of me as a mouse as I dart from here to there checking out promising crumbs without any discernible order, even if there is a level of order hiding beneath the surface. For example, after darting down one path for a while, I often find that there is no cheese down that hole, and so I change course, but I don’t usually indicate why. Still, for all the other mice that follow on in my tracks, there is hope.

Where possible, I have tried to record not only all the names associated with each deed, but also the townlands, identified with the name of parish and/or barony – at least, if that part was included in the memorial. This means that you may find your people’s names even if I wasn’t looking for them in the first place. For those of you who want to stay focused and only check out your own peeps, I suggest that you start searching for the full name, for example “Joseph Devonshire Jackson”. Also, I would suggest that you do a caps-off search to improve your odds. If nothing turns up, try just the first and last name, and finally maybe try just the surname or just the townland name.

When it comes to townland names, it is worth heeding Mark Twain: Anyone who can only think of only one way to spell a word obviously lacks imagination. Goodness knows, there has never been anything such as a lack of imagination when it comes to the Irish. Also, you will notice that my typing and spelling would definitely meet with Mark Twain’s approval. After all, in a document of 300 pages with hundreds of arcane townland names, the spell check program quickly begs off duty.

Ready to start? Here is the link: Sharon’s Chart of Deeds .

I have a wee request. If you do find something on someone that you were seeking, please let me know where they fit in. That way, we can all learn together.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Stunningly Good Quinoa Salad

I was introduced to this recipe last spring, when Trudy fed those of us assembled in New Salem for the marriage of her wonderful son to my wonderful daughter. It has become a fave rave for our family ever since. I made it once for a meal at Roberts Creek Cohousing, and it was such a hit that I have posted it here, because I continue to be asked for a copy. That's how popular it is.

Ingredients for salad. NOTE: Six times the recipe easily feeds 40 when served as a side dish.

1 1/3 c
Quinoa (or 3 cups cooked)
2 2/3
Yellow pepper (or other veg)
Dried apricots chopped
Golden raisons
½ c
Toasted pine nuts (or almonds)

Ingredients for Dressing

Garlic cloves
Zest of limes
Lime juice
4-6 T
Finely chopped green onions
½ tsp
Cumin seed
1 tsp
3 tsp
½ tsp
1 tsp
3 tsp
¼ tsp
Mustard powder
½ tsp
 1 ½ tsp
½ c
Olive oil
1 c
Chopped cilantro

How to cook quinoa according to Ruth Reichl, The Gourmet Cookbook.

  1. Rinse in 5 changes of water in a bowl rubbing grains and letting them settle each time before pouring off water (or drain in a sieve).
  2. Cook quinoa in a 3-4 quart saucepan of boiling well salted water for 10 minutes. Drain in a sieve and rinse under cold water.
  3. Bring about 1 ½ inches water to a boil in same saucepan. Set sieve with quinoa over saucepan; quinoa should not touch water. Cover with a kitchen towel and lid and fold edges of towel up over lid (so towel won’t burn). Steam quinoa until fluffy and dry, 10-12 minutes; check water level occasionally and add boiling water if necessary. Toss with oil and salt and pepper in large bowl and then cool.

Memory is Like Water - Part 2

The term tonypandy is a lovely word to have in one’s kitbag. It was coined by a character in Josephine Tey's 1951 novel, The Daughter of Time. It refers to the way that community memories can take root, even when the known facts don’t fit. For example, these days, a fifth of the population in America is convinced that President Obama was born in Kenya, and is also a practising Muslim. This is nothing more than toneypandy. Not that this is a new phenomena.

As I said in my previous blog, when I explored the nature of felt memory in relation to known facts, Memory is like a liquid, it flows to fit the shape of our social and political narratives. Sometimes the more interesting question is not how is it that people can come to believe in things that are evidently untrue, but why do they have such a need to cling to such beliefs.

Recently, new light has been shed on two pivotal events in Irish History: the Rising of 1641 and the massacres by Cromwell at Drogheda, four years later. For those of you who are new to Irish history, as I am, thousands of Protestants in 1641 were murdered by Catholics. Many of these Catholics had legitimate economic, and human rights issues, as a result of being under the thumbs – or more often the boots - of powerful landowners, who were mostly Protestant. These Protestants had won title to land half a century earlier in Queen Elizabeth’s time, land that had previously been held by the upper class Catholic landlords. After the Uprising in 1641, Cromwell rolled in, and, well, poor old Ireland, it was tit-for-tat time once again.

Last year, Trinity College completed the digitalizing of the 1641 Depositions, and made them public. These records contain remarkably detailed stories recorded in the aftermath of the Uprising. There are heart-rending accounts of individual men and women who had lost cows and crops, inventories of cloth or leather, and other such chattels. Many of them had their houses burnt to the ground, or had family members murdered. The University of Aberdeen used cutting edge software to undertake further linguistic analysis of these stories, and lo and behold. what did they find? A certain level of tonypandy.

Apparently, words such as: believeth and thinketh as well as phrases such as hath credibly heard appeared far more frequently than phrases such as saw or witnessed. A report of their findings was recently published in the Irish Times

It is important not to take this finding too far. After all, not all of the 8,000 depositions were based on second hand sources, hearsay, gossip or what have you. For example, one of the records that interested me – because of my JACKSON connections – was that of Richard Jackson of Ffarnham, in the Parish of Urney, Co. Cavan, a buttonmaker ,who lost all his goods and chattels, corn, hay, cows, garden produce, and a horse and a mare. Another Jackson, a tanner’s son, was killed near Lisnagarvey which would be near Lisburn. Interestingly, although this death was referenced in two dispositions [MS 836 & MS 838], it may be significant that both versions were based on hearsay. My bet is that he actually was killed, albeit possibly before the uprising.

Many images such as this were in Sir John Temple’s book, published 1642, History of the Irish rebellion. The book was continuously reprinted, well into the 20th Century.
Propaganda has always juiced up human emotions for effect, particularly the emotion of fear, and it was true that in 1641, Irish Protestants did have reason to fear. One contemporary Jesuit writer, Father Hugh Bourke, stated quite baldly that the war was begun solely in the interest of the Catholic and Roman religion. He was in a position to know. Not only was faith an issue, but so was land ownership, as well as political power. As Aung San Suu Kyi recently put it, The value systems of those with access to power and of those far removed from such access cannot be the same. The viewpoint of the privileged is unlike that of the underprivileged.

Last fall, I toured the Millmount Fort at Drogheda, the place where Cromwell faced some of his most fierce resistance. As my tour guide directed me through the unlocked gate, he told me, We used to be taught that Cromwell had killed great numbers of women and children here, but recent scholarship teaches us that this interpretation was wrong. But it was what we were taught.

Fergus Whelan in his marvellous Dissent into Treason: Unitarians, King Killers and the Society of United Irishmen has assembled some pretty compelling facts suggesting that most of those butchered at Drogheda were soldiers and English and Irish Protestant royalists. Ironically, given the future religious-ethnic divide, the commander of the garrison at Drogheda, Aston, was an English Catholic royalist.  At the time, it was common military practice to murder other captured enemy soldiers, particularly when they had refused to surrender. After all, a paid, standing army was a luxury in itself, and most commanders could barely afford to house and feed their own soldiers, let alone hundreds of captives.

As for the other allegations, such as the ones that Cromwell was alleged to have murdered nuns and monks and destroyed their religious houses as he moved from Dublin to Drogheda and Wexford,  well these don’t pan out either. Dr. Ni Mhurchadha points out that not only had most of the convents and monasteries already been closed down during by Henry VIII in 1536, but that if Oliver Cromwell were responsible for all the destruction attributed to him on his way to Drogheda, he must have travelled there by three different roads.

The point in these recent reappraisals of common historical memory is not that Catholics didn’t slaughter thousands of Protestants in 1641. They did. Nor that Protestants didn’t slaughter just as many if not more Catholics under Cromwell. They did. The point is that the felt narrative, the memories of what had happened to each community, galloped far ahead of the facts. After all, that was part of the purpose of the stories. To activate the base, as we would say today.

Violence can be an effective tool, bringing about political change quickly, but it always leaves the kind of hurt and debris that become the fuel for even more damage. Nurturing past hurts in the form of false or exaggerated memories is often part of this fuel. As always, where we stand shapes what we see, and it also shapes what stories continue to resonate. The health of Ireland today is in part because the narrative of times past is indeed shifting. Now that there is also less fear, there is also less need for tonypandy. New stories are finally being told, and the people at Trinity, Aberdeen and elsewhere are all part and parcel of this. They deserve our thanks.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Memory is like Water

I started thinking about how we construct family histories, and about how we are always stuck with the reliability or unreliability of memory, and, well, here's what I came up with, which is somewhat sideways from where I started.

First of all, I decided that if memory is like anything, then it is like water. It can be as fluid as a liquid, as solid as ice, or as vapourous as steam. Perhaps we should all be taught this at the same time as we learn about the periodic table. Instead, we tend to think of memories as solid, reliable. It might be more helpful if we imagined them as fluids which are shaped by the containers that hold them, which in turn are determined by the stories that we hold to be true about ourselves, our families and the wider world. Sometimes, when there is a profound shift in our personal or family narrative, perhaps as a result of trauma, or therapy, or a change in belief or circumstance, certain memories can even go poof, like magic. They can change from liquid to vapor, and disappear.

Story #1: Decades ago, during my second term serving on Mission City Council as an elected official, one of my fellow aldermen had one of those mental illnesses that can happen to any of us. One day, there he was, putting one foot in front of the other in what we call our shared reality. The next day, he was in another world where he was convinced that he had killed someone. He was so absolutely convinced, and horrified, that he drove down to the police department, and turned himself into the Chief of Police.

Except, the truth was that he hadn’t killed anyone. Not even close. The person, who he was so sure he had killed, hadn’t even seen him recently. After months of therapy, my friend and fellow alderman began to return to our shared reality. He began to be healed. As part of the therapy, it was suggested that he meet with the very person that he was so sure he had killed. A coffee date was arranged, and the two men met.

Hours later, my alderman friend and I had a coffee together on my front deck overlooking the valley. It was the weirdest thing.  X was sitting there in front of me, and in part of my mind, I knew that I hadn’t killed him, but that didn’t matter. My memory of having killed him was way more vivid than him sitting there in front of me, in a plaid shirt.

I suspect that many artists experience something like this on a regular basis, when the imagined becomes more vivid than that that which is ostensibly real. It isn’t even necessary to be an artist. It happens more often than most of us dare to admit.

Story # 2: Several years ago, when my youngest daughter was in high school, I went to a parent-teacher night. A few weeks later she and my husband were listening to her telling us about a particular teacher. My husband said he hadn’t met the guy. I was incredulous.

But he was at the parent-teacher meeting, I said
But I wasn’t there, he replied.
But remember when I passed you that book?

As we continued to argue our case, each of us utterly convinced of our own truth, our daughter left the room and returned with the family calendar in hand. Mum, she said, Dad was in Ottawa. I remember a sinking feeling in my stomach. I could still see myself handing my husband a Grade Ten Social Studies textbook, as we listened to the teacher talk about the course he taught. It took me several breaths worth of time to accept that this memory was a total fabrication. It took me even longer to suspect that I had experienced this memory because I needed it, likely because it fitted a narrative that I yearned for, that we had been together at this time.

Story # 3: More recently, three of us were sitting around debating how memory works, which is ironic, given the topic of this blog. It went something like this [names changed]:

Fred: Memory is all in the brain. When we have a gut reaction, it is because our brain told our gut to have such a reaction. It sends a message down through the nerves. It doesn’t start in the gut.
Beth: Memory might be stored in ways we don’t even know about, possibly in every bit of our DNA. What about those people who have had a heart transplant and then report craving Kentucky Fried Chicken when they have never ever experienced such a craving before in their life – and it turns out that the heart came from a person who lived and breathed Kentucky Fried Chicken?

The debate between the two perspectives continued, going round in circles, until Beth repeated the earlier point that she had made about the Kentucky Fried Chicken story.

Fred - exasperated: Well I never heard that before.
Kath – as witness: But Beth just said it to you five minutes ago.
Fred - visibly stunned: Impossible.

It is easy to see reasons for how this can happen. Often, when we are busily countering an argument, we temporarily tune the other person out. Why not? It can be hard to hear and think at the same time, even though, like singing in the shower, we can often carry it off. Other times, we might have a brief mental hiccup, the kind where our consciousness temporarily leaves the building. We all do it. Me, I am a great floater, sometimes to my own chagrin. Huh? Sorry. What did you say?

In each of the three stories that I have shared here, the felt memories had a deeper resonance than the shared reality did – for a while. In each instance, it took some time for the person who had the felt memory to let go and move on. It took a moment of grace.

When it comes to writing about family histories, it may help to remember that all chosen memories, including those memories chosen by our families and ancestors, tend to live on with a life, and then a half-life, and so on, and that they shape us  – no matter whether “real” or not. It is also one of those things that is sad but true, that it is often the invented memories – the felt memories - that set and change the course of human history.

But that’s a larger issue, one for a blog that will follow this – in a day or three. I promise. Today, I just wanted to make the small point that the invention of memories starts here. With us. With all of us. Also, that a bit of compassionate curiosity about the nature of all of our memories might go a long way towards bridging divides. After all, this is one of those amazingly human things that we all do. There might even be a reason for it.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Deep Down, We’re Shallow

“Way down deep, I'm very shallow." Ah yes, Dorothy Parker has the best lines. The first year that I held an Oscar party, after moving to the Sunshine Coast, was in 2002. That year, Vanessa claimed the honours of the highest score on the ballot. One of those present asked her, Vanessa, how did you know best foreign documentary?  And she answered, I just did. Which is just about all that any of us can say when we win. Of course, some of us do our homework, some of us just wing it, and what the heck, both approaches have been known to work.

Phyllis - in silver - had to leave early that year, so I added her using Photo Shop.

Sarah , has been at our Oscars celebration every year since we started, but she also had her own award to brag about this year, so I decided that she should have a cameo moment in this blog.
L-R Sarah & Vanessa 2003 Oscars

You see, Sarah and her partner, Kerith, have developed a revolutionary walking crutch, SideStix. You can use it to climb mountains such as Kilimanjaro (as she did),walk the Camino de Santiago trail (as she also did), or to clamber over every imaginable obstacle on the West Coast trail (again, as she did). All this, with only one leg. Aside from these kinds of athletic accomplishments, this device is majorly important because it protects every joint from fingers on up through shoulders – all of which are at risk of injury for those who use crutches for any significant length of time. Which is totally worth the recognition that she and Kerith received at the New Ventures BC Competition and the $20,000 that came with it.

Now, back to the Oscars. Time to get deep down shallow again. In 2003, Vanessa had the honour of passing the statue to Rosemary. Over the past ten years, Rosemary has been our hands down champion, either winning or tying six times.

L-R Rosemary, Sharon, Vanessa, Sarah, Colleen, Dee Dee. 2003 Oscars.

Amazingly, this Oscars ceremony has been held without fail –for the past decade, even one year when I wasn’t home. I had forgotten this, but someone recently reminded me I had set the space up for the party, put out enough glasses, cutlery and such, and then left for Ireland the day before. Friends then let themselves in, and they all pulled it off without a hitch. As a result of this interrupted record, our statue base has had to grow - and soon, we will need a new layer.

Gaudium Certaminis  The Joy of Struggle - which is our motto for the evening.

One of our other traditions, is sharing a great truckload of nosh and drink. As for The Moi, I always enjoy baking bread ahead of time and shaping the loaves into the letters O-S-C-A-R-S. Others pitch in salads, finger foods and desserts.

For easy reference, I have posted blogs containing some of the recipes. There is one for the cocktail, Head Over Heels, one for the ice cream, and one for the sherbet. That should keep you out of trouble. Or else, get you into it.

And last but not least, no Oscar evening would be complete without a winner:
L-R 2011 WINNER: Karen, & Sharon - presenter, Colleen - presenting swag. Photo credit Laurie McConnell - taken on an iphone during the party.

Sharon’s Vanilla Yoghurt Ice cream

This is a delightfully tangy ice-cream, that for some reason often tastes as if there is a hint of lemon in it, even though there isn`t. It has been a family fave rave since the kids were little, so we are talking at least three decades and change since I first started making it for our family.

2 ¼c
1 ½c
Unflavoured yoghurt
1 ½T
1 ½ tsp
Eggs lightly beaten
¾ c
½ c
¼ c
¾ c
¼ c
Light corn syrup
2 ¼c
1 ½c
¾ c
Whipping cream
¾ tsp
½ tsp
¼ tsp

  • I have found that it takes a hellishly long time to freeze this ice-cream when I do four times the recipe, but, it may only be that my decades old ice-cream-maker is finally showing its age. Regardless, this is why I draw the line at three times the recipe.
  • It helps to beat the sugar into the eggs first, then add everything else, then start up the ice cream machine so it is already running before you pour it in. NOTE: I put my electric ice-cream maker right into the freezer, even though it is supposed to work with just the freezer pack that fits into it.
  • SUBSTITUTIONS: Light corn syrup is not the same as Rogers Golden syrup – a delightful thing in itself. If you don`t have light corn syrup (which is clear in appearance) – substitutions work, although the texture is different. If you use honey, start by using less than you might think, and then taste for sweetness. The taste of honey can easily be overpowering.
  • Other booze can be substituted for vanilla, but I have always returned to the old tried and true. Mexican vanilla is assertive and perfect for this. MEMORY: This ice-cream was the last thing that my mother ate when she was at my home and near death. Because it was just after Christmas, I pulverized left over candy canes, and included them in the mix. I can still remember her impish smile as it was spooned into her mouth.
  • Ironically, the cheaper yoghurts – the ones that use gelatine to fool you that they are actually real yoghurt – often work really well, although since I prefer organic dairy, I have long since quit doing it this way.

Four Step Sorbet

This vegan recipe contains only four simple ingredients. Better yet - all it takes is a blender – no ice cream maker required. Amazingly to me – a non-vegan, it tastes just as delicious as other recipes that I have used in the past which required egg-whites and more fiddling.
1 Xs
4 Xs
1 cup
4 cups
1 1/2 tsp
2 cups
8 cups
2 cups
8 cups
pureed strawberries

  • Dissolve sugar and cornstarch in the water in a large saucepan while stirring over low heat, then boil until thick, like syrup, about ten minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.
  • When the sugar syrup is completely cooled, add the pureed fruit and mix well. Place in a plastic container and freeze, uncovered, until it is solid.
  • Cut the sorbet into chunks, and then buzz it in a blender.
  • Put the sorbet back into the freezer and freeze it for another 4 hours.


  • This sorbet can be made a day ahead – as long as you have an armed guard in front of your freezer – otherwise, it seems to evaporate.