Sunday, December 26, 2010

Food thoughts

I know my blog name doesn't really seem to reflect how my blog seems to have been going in the past few weeks, but I won't apologize. My interests are varied. And fickle, to say the least. I'm still knitting, I'm still thinking and talking about hiking (one of these days I'll actually organize a hike out in Western Mass) and I'm considering writing again (nanowrimo wore me out). For now, food is something that has taken up some goodly time of my thinking.

I realized recently, that dairy may be giving me some intestinal issues. It's that or possibly gluten, which I truly do not want to face. (i'm a bread person) I wasn't spectacularly excited at this new development, but it did give me a kick in the butt.

I should explain. For seven and a half years, I was a vegetarian, after hearing a lovely speech in french on how I should be vegan. I was unwilling to give up eggs and dairy products, so I chose being vegetarian. It wasn't much of a sacrifice-meat has never been a big part of my diet for the most part. That lasted for 7.5 years, in which I did not eat healthfully. Too much carbs. And dairy for that matter.

I changed back to omnivore near the very beginning of my hike, needing high calories without worrying about meat in my foods. I have since been enjoying the pleasures of eating meat. I've also been considering going back to vegetarian.

Naturally, with the realization that dairy could be an issue, I decided vegan could be the way to go. I've decided to go for it and am currently reading a variety of cookbooks and books about being a feminist and vegetarian-hopefully will get the one on veganism by melisser elliott soon.

So, I'm hoping to create a menu for the first few weeks at least, while being vegan. There are so many good ones in these cookbooks I have.

Anyone have any ideas?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Knitting and a sidenote

On Friday, I knew I would be watching all three Star Wars in a row (4,5,6...1,23 don't exist) and I knew that that much time spent looking at a tv screen surely meant that I ought to have something productive to do with me. Such as knitting. I've had Talia on my to-do list for the last month or so and I have the yarn, so why not? I found the pattern on Knitty. I got four skeins of Berroco's Vintage yarn in this bright, brilliant purple. Already, I'm quite in love with my choice of color.

So far, it has come out truly beautiful. When looking at the pictures on the pattern, I had completely failed to notice how detailed the bottom hem is on the vest. And it truly is quite beautiful. I doubt mine is quite as defined as the model vest, but I like it, mistakes and all. It's purple after all. And I am always a sucker for purple, frankly. I can't wait for more surprises with this vest! 

Also, I made a second loaf of sourdough bread yesterday, attempting to fix the problems with the first loaf. I believe it is fairly safe to say that i succeeded. Patience is key. I let it rise for 3 hours and proof for another three hours. Both times in a slightly warmed oven. Of course, turning on the oven to bake it suddenly produced a strong reaction to this wild strain of yeast in my starter and it poofed up even more, which was fantastic! It has a very unique flavor to it. I'm looking forward to being able to find new sourdough recipes to use with this starter I have!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My New Pet

Over the last  year or so, I've become rather enamored of creating a sourdough starter. I tried to several months ago (before my thru-hike) and was spectacularly unsuccessful. I suspect contamination, frankly, after having read something from another website about mold spores.

A couple weeks ago, I bought a giant pyrex mixing cup (eg pretty much a bowl) and it sat on top of the refrigerator, waiting for me, until Wednesday evening. I finally got it down and trepidatiously mixed the cup of flour and water together and let it sit on top of the stove (probably the closest to a warm place in this house). In the last day and a half, it's started to bubble rather ferociously, in my opinion, which is quite fantastic! Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture before using it, so this is a picture after I've put it in the refrigerator (it makes it 'hibernate' so to speak) so it's not quite as excited about bubbling.

As you can see it is very very shiny. (This is definitely a good thing from my perspective.) It filled the entire kitchen with a quite sour smell. Not necessarily a good smell, but hopefully it will translate into delicious tasting sour dough bread. I mixed in sugar, oil, and salt and more flour to form a good bread dough and let it rise for an hour. (A short time even by my standards and short by sourdough standards...soooo we'll see) This was taken a little while after I first formed the dough, once it had been sitting in a slightly warmed oven for a few minutes. Already it was showing signs of rising:

I punched it down added a tiny amount of flour and formed it into a loaf in this small pan (It looks quite good and smells sour already!):

I had to leave for my plans before it was baked, but I took a picture this morning after I had a slice (and others did last night!) so here's a picture of the bread now (Clearly, I didn't let it rise enough...which is why I'm going to try again today!!):

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gluten Free Girl & the Chef

I spent some of last night and most of my free moments today reading "Gluten Free Girl & The Chef" a book from the blog of the same name. I haven't gone over all of the recipes, but the ones I have? They seem really delicious.

I've been thinking about food a lot recently, as I've been in the process of applying for a job in the food industry. So, naturally, being something of a bibliophile, I kept an eye out for books at the library on food-this one was part recipe book, part memoir, part food philosophy. Food philosophy is something that I find really really interesting.

I was first introduced to gluten free as a way of life back in the summer of '09 when I worked at a camp called Farm & Wilderness. It tries to be as natural in it's food process as possible. I found myself making foods that were gluten free.

Since then, the idea has intrigued me. And as someone who (most likely) does not have celiac's disease, I've found it difficult to justify actually messing around with it. I will probably continue to have this issue, unfortunately. But the book was good, because it focused more on food groups those with celiac's CAN eat-such as meats and fresh in season vegetables and fruits and other grains such as teff and millet. All the recipes look quite delicious so far. I'm quite excited to maybe try some in the future!

In other news, I finished my fingerless gloves (knucks found at and embroidered 'damn cold' on them. The embroidery is crap and I'm going to have to re-do that, but otherwise, I think they came out quite fantastically.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Baby it's cold outside?

I think I have heard that song once too many times in the last couple of weeks. While I like christmas, I find the music equal parts charming, lovable and annoying.

In any case, I started the Knucks a while back in late November. And the fingers flew along flawlessly. Joining the fingers together? Not a problem. Knitting down to joining the thumb? No issue there! No, the trouble came from where I forgot to add stitch markers. It turned out to be a relatively simple issue, one that required no tinking or other futzing with the knitting to fix. I just had to put stitch markers in the next round. But the wording of the pattern took a moment to work out where the stitch markers should be. Which was annoying to say the least. They ended up needing to mark where the thumb started/stopped and I kind of stared at the pattern and wondered why the hell it didn't say that in the first place!

And now, once I figured out that one problem, they have been flying off the needles. I'm at the cuff on the second knuck so I have several more rounds to go before I bind off. And then, I believe I am going to embroider 'DAMN COLD' onto them. I got a suggestion from a friend last night and unfortunately I have no memory of what his suggestion was. However-I do know that as soon I found Damn Cold as a suggestion in the pattern, my mind was made up unless something even more awesome came up.

I haven't finished them yet, but I anticipate doing so today. If I were a picture person, I would share them with you. But, sadly, I have neither a good camera nor a good eye for photography.

Next on my queue is Talia and I'm really excited about it. I have this Berrocco Vintage yarn that's a bright purple and while it's not the black that Talia originally has, I don't care. It's PURPLE. How much better could you get? not at all..

As for writing, I have grand plans for today. Though I will say I probably won't get all that much done.

I almost went backpacking this weekend, but that fell through. I have this new pack, the Granite Gear Vapor Ki (It's purple) and am really really excited to try it out, even though it will probably be my summer backpack, as it only holds 30lbs and 59 liters. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to lighten everything up to  use it in winter. As it is, I cannot wait for summertime to come again!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Yes, as you can see, I have not posted since October

Despite passing the 50k mark on November 21 (about the same time as last year), I had yet to come back to this blog. I've thought about it! I swear I have.

Anyways. Nanowrimo went quite well. Last year, I went into Nano with a rough outline of plot points I wanted to hit, several characters backgrounds and how I thought it was going to end. I never got to the end, I got about halfway, maybe, when I reached the 50k and decided that was it, I wasn't going any farther.

I also knew as November drew to a close that this 'novel' would be one of the ones you shove in a drawer, as far back as you can and let everything pile on top of it. In other words, I don't want to throw it away, but I NEVER WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN. Ever. It is just that awful. The timing is awful, the characterization is awful and something about the whole thing is just plain disgusting. But that's ok.

I learned this year, that yes, even though it's Nanowrimo, that the story is going to suck major *insert appropriate cuss words here,* that just having had the experience of attempting to write a novel gives you a better idea of pacing. Gives you a wee bit better idea of characterization and subtlety (even in real life, I am not known for being subtle. I prefer IN YOUR FACE. Much easier and I'm kind of a social-idiot when it comes to the subtle meanings of anything).

What I am trying to say here is, that even though my novel is complete crap, that it needs to be rewritten, repaced and replotted, this one actually has hope of seeing the light of day again. I do not want to stick it in the drawer, let dust and stuff pile up on top of it. No, this one I am going to replot, I am going to re-write and re-pace.

...Just not tonight. I'm scared it's going to eat me.