Cooking Is My Art

I started to wonder where all my creative energy was going, since it wasn’t going to writing.

Then I remembered what I’ve been doing lately.

Making pomanders for Christmas presents:

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Putting together homemade cards for birthdays and occasions throughout the year:

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Knitting on the cardigan:

019But more importantly, cooking. Like, all the time. Compulsively. (It’s like I need to eat, or something.)

Three-Squash Soup (Butternut, Acorn and mystery squash–my own random recipe):

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Butternut Squash Lasagna (original recipe here–I subbed pumpkin for the butternut):

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Pumpkin Custard with Brulee Topping (best food ever):

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My own random Sun-Dried Tomato, Olive, and Cauliflower pasta (with the addition of garlic, parsley and kale this time):

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White Bean Stew:

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Tofu Chocolate Mousse:

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Spicy Gingerbread Cake:

018I think that cooking has taken over, first out of necessity and then out of creativity, as my current art form. Being a vegan means I have to be a lot more proactive about my food than an omnivore would–vegan convenience food, when available, is usually a lot more expensive and less tasty.

So right now, cooking is the art I practice. I practice it faithfully. I have to. Many days I don’t want to. Sometimes my art is more like peanut butter and jelly than Quinoa and Black Bean Stuffed Peppers with homemade Enchilada Sauce. My art is a lot less visible and a lot less permanent than I’d like it to be.

But the day will come when I can invest in that kind of art, too. And maybe spending time in something transient and overlooked will have given me some kind of skill I can use.

Until then, I’m going to fiddle with that Spicy Gingerbread Cake recipe. Because I’m just not a fan of the peanut oil, and I think I want to add some powdered ginger with the fresh stuff, and my friend and I agree that a maybe a vegan whipped cream would be nice on top…

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Knitting the Perfectionist Way

A few years ago, I was given some amazingly beautiful yarn from my aunt. This yarn was so incredible, so deeply color-saturated, so soft, just the perfect amount of fuzzy (but not too fuzzy) that it required the PERFECT pattern.

After a fruitless search (because I had determined that this yarn wanted to a zippered hoodie), I decided to make my own pattern. It couldn’t be too hard, could it?

038It was too hard. I got about ten glorious inches into the thing before admitting that it just wasn’t right. And with a yarn this amazing, it had to be done right.

So I put it aside for a while.

And then I tried searching for a pattern again.

I searched Ravelry. I searched Knitty. I tried Twist Collective and Knit Picks. I even branched out to Vogue Knitting and did google searches.

Nowhere was there a pattern I liked.

Apparently a shaped (not boxy), zip, hoodie, in about 6 SPI gauge, was too much to ask.
I tried again this fall.

043That was when I determined that the yarn was not going to show itself off well unless it was stockinette. I loved the way the seed stitch looked on the model sweater, but mine was not so well-favoured. I had to return a gorgeous pattern book when I discovered the one I wanted to make had more purl stitches than I expected.

When I came across Hollywell Cardigan on Ravelry, I was willing to give up the zipper part of my preferences for buttons since this pattern has all of my other required elements. I’m not doing the stripes, but that’s my only change. I could probably swap out the button bands for a zipper but at this point I’m considering that maybe my love of zippers has waned.

So this is my current project, so very many false starts in the making. I have hope that it’ll be finished before hot weather sets in. Or, you know, before next fall’s chill comes along.

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Do you have a craft project you’re working on right now? Or a project that’s waiting for the perfect Something before you can start?

All Hectic on the Western Front

The last month has been interesting.

I’ve had rehearsal three days a week, which was a lot more fun than I expected. Rehearsal days are now my favorites.007The Boyfriend and I celebrated our One Year Anniversary.

023I applied for four new positions at work and got turned down for three of them. I’m still waiting to hear back from the fourth, and I have an application ready to turn in for another. Ambitious or a glutton for punishment? We don’t know.

002aI recently changed departments at work, so there are lots of new things I’m learning there. It’s been awesome, but brain-consuming. I’m continuing to train as an assistant for yet another department, so my skills are diversifying.

I’ve tried new experiments on social responsibility, namely: using vintage hankies instead of facial tissue. It was slightly more work to start out (ironing my line-dried hankies, remembering to pack them in my purse and workbag, setting them aside to wash separately so they don’t get stained blue with my jeans, etc.) but I think I like them better. Next up: People Towels.

001I also attended World Veg Festival with my fellow vegan roommate and discovered the most amazing Sjaac’s Chocolate. (I bought way too much and ate it way too fast.)

wvf_cardAnd I discovered Peet’s Maple Lattes, which is a delightful fall treat since I don’t care for the Pumpkin Spice Lattes everyone else is crazy about.

005(This particular Peet’s location has the added advantage of roaming chickens. I don’t know where they come from. But there were chicks!)

011All in all, it was a pretty busy month but I didn’t go under. October should be slightly easier, fingers crossed. I might even dig myself out from under the pile of Things to Do on my table…

Let’s Be Spontaneous…Tomorrow

I’m a fan of spontaneity.

You wouldn’t know this to look at me; I keep a fairly regulated lifestyle and don’t add a lot of extra activities to my routine.

My version of being spontaneous is more like, “I have an afternoon free! I can do anything I want! …but I think I want to do some laundry so I have clothes tomorrow, and since I’m here doing laundry I may as well cook for the next few days. I guess I can watch a movie while I’m at it,” and there goes an afternoon that most spontaneous people would probably spend running off to pick up a game of laser tag or find a circus.

So the whole “I’m in a Christmas play!” thing that just happened made me take a good hard look at my routine (and my laundry). I’m seriously going to have to structure things for the next three months. Like, for reals, you guys.

Right now I’m Christmas shopping, planning Thanksgiving, thinking about Halloween costumes, deciding yes or no on NaNoWriMo, and trying to get all of my outstanding tasks (and housecleaning) done before the end of the month.

It’s all very intense.

I have discovered, however, that I’m still me and have not magically acquired the ability to subsist on less than five hours of sleep. (Who knew?)

So because things will be more structured in my life, expect a little less structure here for the next few months. Because, you know, I’ve got to be spontaneous somewhere.

My Black Walnut Adventure

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A few weeks ago I was walking along the creek with the Boyfriend and realized that there were black walnut trees lining the way. Like, lots of them.

I’m a nut lover. But nuts are expensive. So, I thought, what luck! Free nuts practically in my backyard! With a little time and elbow grease, I’ll be set!

Yeah. It’s typical for me to be a little charmingly out of touch.

This is what has transpired in my Black Walnut Adventure so far:

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Try #1: picked walnuts off the tree! Because the instructions here recommended harvesting green ones so that the dark spots don’t soak into the nut and change the flavour.

But I think they weren’t ready yet. The information here says the hulls should be slightly squishy and ready to fall off the trees. So I went back.

Try #2: this time I gathered a bunch off the ground, which goes against the advice here about removing the hills immediately or they’d turn bitter. But it seemed smarter than harvesting green nuts.

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(There is no way I can shake these trees, as is advised, without a tractor. For me, it’s picking off the ground or the occasional branch at the right height.)

I removed the hulls, like instructed:

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And scrubbed off the leftover hull gunk:

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It took a lot of time and effort, and I don’t know if I’m curing them correctly right now. I’ve read that you should put them outside in the sunshine to dry and, conversely, that you should keep them away from light and heat. A lot of my walnuts floated; the wisdom on that is any nut that sinks has nutmeat while the ones which float are full of air–but I’m keeping all of this first batch as a trial so I can see for myself.

Also? I used gloves. But they seemed to spring a leak at some point.

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(It’s much darker in person. Ooops.)

To be continued…

My Personal Citrus Grove

I live in a lovely condo in a nice neighborhood in a delightful city. We have beautiful weather. What we don’t have is space to garden. Our backyard is a mere patio made smaller with rockscaping on the sides. A very large jasmine periodically tries to take over.

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My friend has started an herb garden on the fence. It’s currently unknown if they will survive or die slowly, like the soybean plant that just gave up the ghost.

Last month I got the pressing urge to get a lemon tree. I wanted a lemon tree, badly. I wanted citrus, yes, and at the time I was buying bags of lemons at a time, but I had the emotional need to Buy A Lemon Tree.

So I did, with the full understanding that this tree would take quite a while to produce my favorite fruit.

But just look at this beauty!

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I think it likes me.