Opinion » Pique'n Yer Interest

A handy hobby

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I've been called an "old soul" for a decade or two now, but I'm still not 100-per-cent sure as to why.

I'm not sure if it's a euphemism for saying that I'm weird or eccentric (which is true and something I embrace) or perhaps crotchety (which can certainly be true at times).

It might have to do with some of my entertainment tastes, but while I like movies and music from bygone eras, I'll still rave over the latest blockbuster or groove down to some of the latest pop singles (OK, "groove down" ... maybe I do know why some people think of me that way).

I like to think of it more as having little patience for most modern nonsense (yeah, I see it) and my eagerness to make things by hand.

It started early, when my very old-school elementary-school teacher insisted that each student in our Grade 4 class learn to sew, and sew we did. We all made drawstring bags and I used mine for my gym clothes for years to come. The following Halloween, I fashioned my own costume; for our hockey year-end wind-up, I sewed keepsakes for all my teammates. They weren't particularly popular.

From there, I eventually took up guitar and did some writing and performing.

But most recently, this has manifested itself in taking some pride in cooking. I'd had some flirtations with the art form in high school, as I washed dishes for a small bistro that later had me do some prep and making the odd dessert. It was a gratifying experience to only be in Grade 10 and have something you prepared being delivered to a table for customers.

With so many jobs putting people behind a desk or a counter, tapping away at screens all day, it can be difficult at times to maintain a sense of one's own creation. At Pique, we get to have more direct input into the final product than those at other publications; we not only write the content but also place many of the stories on the page. It's certainly a satisfying process, but if back in the day, if we had to, say, set the type as well, how much more accomplished would we feel holding the weekly edition hot off the presses?

That, in particular, is not something I'm yearning for, but the vague sense of victory, that the extra effort you put in is actually worth it, is. Once I was living on my own, I would try a few recipes I found online and in a homemade book of family favourites my mom curated, as I was about to leave home.

Then a few months ago, with my stockpile of Air Miles being threatened by a new use-'em-or-lose-'em policy, I set out to finally earn a tangible benefit of my years of loyalty gassing up at Shell and selected a fresh pasta maker.

It's taken some trial and error getting it to work immaculately, from finding a surface in which to properly attach it, to getting the pieces of dough to stop from sticking to one another. In a world where you can heat a pizza pop in two-and-a-half minutes, there's something to be said for standing at your counter, kneading your dough for four times longer than that. There's the patience you need to let it rest for half an hour, and then the enthralling tedium of gradually flattening it down to the desired thickness.

Once it's cut, it's ready to be boiled, and a timesaver emerges. It takes far less time to cook the fresh stuff than dried pasta, which can, let's be honest, be a little flavourless and even a little rubbery at times.

Of course, this is a bit of a privileged anecdote—given the living situations in Whistler and the corridor, even having all the clean cookware you need isn't necessarily a given, let alone actually having the space to work with. If you have less-than-stellar roommates, there's no guarantee any special ingredients you buy survives from purchase to feast.

Or it can be difficult to get motivated to make something nice for just yourself. Even if the holidays are over (or maybe especially because they are), perhaps an in-house potluck is in order.

Here's to a happy, healthy, hands-on 2019.