27 May, 2008

Links

As promised, here are the links to the websites where I got my patterns.

1 - The baby carpet comes from "Instant Expert: Crochet" book.
2 - The pattern for dishcloth was found on the website, but I can't trace back the link. I am pretty sure I have it printed out somewhere and I promise to post the URL as soon as I can.
3 - The purse comes from January 2008 issue of "Crochet today!" magazine.

4 - The pattern for hook case is a modified version of this one. I changed it to a 2-color model and also adjusted the dimensions.

Oprah + Vegan

I was going through some of the Vegan blogs and found this in Megan the Vegan blog.

Apparently Oprah is trying the 21-day vegan cleansing. She even has a blog about it with some recipes. Let see what it will lead to!

23 May, 2008

Iced Tea

Inspired by this Martha Stewart recipe I decided to make my own iced tea couple of weeks ago. I wanted it to be refreshing, not too sweet, and unusual. I remembered drinking "Rose petal" white tea at my friend's house. The drink had a slight rose flavor and a rather interesting aftertaste of ... dried coriander. I would not lie, the first sip was rather peculiar but after a while the herby taste grew on me.
Armed with this idea I got my white tea bags ready (you can use loose leave tea - I was just very lazy that day).

Refreshing Iced T

the recipe is good for approximately a liter of tea. Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar and lemon according to your taste

2 white tea bags
1/2 of the lemon, thinly sliced
~4 tbsp of brown sugar
2 springs of basil, leaves removed
3 springs of cilantro (for those of you who can't stand cilantro, substitute it with fresh mint)
1 litre of water

Boil water.
Thinly cut half of the amount of basil and cilantro.
Put all the ingredients, apart from sugar and water, in a tea infuser (if your teapot does not have one you can simply put the ingredients in your tea pot. Do not forget to pour your tea into a different pot once it's ready).
Pour hot water and add sugar. Mix everything well and let steep for 15-20 minutes.
If you don't like your tea too strong you can remove the tea bags but keep the herbal mix for longer.
Remove the infuser and refrigerate the tea until cold.

Knitting disappointment and some links

Inspired by my multiple successful crocheting projects I decided to plunge into knitting. My great grandmother taught me how to knit when I was 5 and even though I haven't knitted anything since then I was sure that 2 needles are better then 1 hook, and my work should progress at least twice as fast with the needles.
I started with a simple scarf:
(5 purls, 5 knits) repeat 5 times
it was flying off my needles. YEY!!!

Yesterday I wanted to knit something a bit more complex: how about this gorgeous shawl (picture on the left) from the latest issue of Knit1?
The pattern is marked as "advanced", but hey intermediate crocheter is an almost advanced knitter, right? So I casted on 5 stitches, knitted them, and started to untangle the world of yarn over's and sk2p's when after a 20th row I found out that my shawl looks nothing like the one on the picture.
I checked the instructions again, and yes, they do ask you to practice several times, since the pattern is rather complex. After my third attempt, I realised that I am doing something very very wrong. I re-read the instructions, made sure I understand what every abbreviation means, and finally decided to get back to basics and check if I am knitting and purling correctly.

This is when it hit me: all along I was knitting and purling WRONG!!! I was doing everything right, but instead of inserting my needle behind the front "leg" of the loop I was inserting it in the back ... and in the wrong direction.


All this to tell you that here are some useful links with videos of most common knitting stitches. I'll be practicing those for a while, before reattempting my gorgeous shawl!

Knittingatknoon

And finally, my personal favorite:
KnittingHelp - not only they have great videos and all the stitches in English and Continental style, the also feature the very comprehensive stitch glossary (with the links to the videos). I will definitely be referring to this one over and over and over again.

I am off to practice my knits and purls, and to check out some yarn stores later on today!
Happy knitting to all of you!

First Steps

It all started after I heard the news that my very good friend (best childhood friend) in Tashkent gave birth to a baby girl. I decided that I have to send a little something for her, preferable hand-made. So I got some yarn and some hooks, and since I've been practicing crocheting for a little bit over a week, I started the baby carpet in extremely psychedelic color scheme (to tell you the truth, colors look rather tame on this photo):
After finishing the carpet, I wanted to continue crocheting, but make something smaller this time. I also wanted it to be useful and simple enough that if I would not get the design correctly I would still be able to use it. So the big winter sweater was out of the question, and I decided to crochet a dish cloth:
It was a fun and easy project and I decided to continue.
Next was this bright yellow purse that I now use to carry my current projects around:

After the blanket it was the biggest project so far. I really like the texture of the finished material and will probably use this stitch for something else in near future.

Finally, this morning I finished my hook case. I got 7 hooks as a Christmas gift and so far they've been stored in the empty chocolate box. Now they have a cozy home. This is how it looks from outside:

And inside it has room for 9 hooks:


The original case had buttons and would roll to "close". I am contemplating the idea of attaching some ribbons to mine, meanwhile I can just fol it in half to close and it actually stays closed!


I really hope that I would be able to find enough time to camp, cook, and crochet/knit. For now, while it is cold and rainy in Montreal, I'll keep knitting and crocheting!

P.S. The colors on the pictures are not as good as they are in real life. I definitely should start taking pictures during the day - daylight makes everything so much prettier!
P.P.S. I will post links and references to places where I got my patterns from very soon.

22 May, 2008

What NOT to crochet

I just had to share this link with you:

http://whatnottocrochet.wordpress.com

Camping food

Last weekend was an official opening of the camping season. Unfortunately I did not get a chance to participate in yearly Grand Rassemblement de Kayakiste and I don't have any photos or recipes to share with you. But I still want to make a post about camping food (vegan, vegetarian, or not). From past years of camping with people and from hearing their stories I realised that food, or should I say it's weight, is one of the biggest problems among campers, and more specifically hikers. If you usually camp by car, canoe, or even kayak you can pretty much take whatever you want with you: even if the space is somewhat limited - you do not have to worry about the weight of your breakfasts and suppers. This changes once you realise that you have to carry all your food on your shoulders for next three ..... five ... or even ten days. Once you pack all your food try comparing its' weight to the weight of the rest of your equipment and you would start wondering if you really need/want eat that much! But good nutrition is important, especially when you spend 24 hours outdoors, hiking up and down the hills. Here I tried to put some advice about

MINIMIZING food weight.

I am sure that the list is not complete and I would LOVE to hear more ideas.

1. Cut down on fresh produce
Fresh fruits and vegetables, bread and cheese, snacks and drinks, are the most heavy food items. Try to avoid bringing them with you, especially if you know that you are camping for several days. Even though it is amazing to bite into fresh apple, while sitting next to the lake you might want to bring dehydrated/dried fruits to snack on instead.
If you can't eliminate fresh produce from your diet, take those items that are less heavy and do not forget to ration them (see #2).

What about all those tofu-based "meats"? I doubt I can find a dehydrated version of my ground round.
I firmly believe that Textured Vegetable and Soy Protein (TVP and TSP) were invented by hikers. What could be better then these lights "biscuits" that turn into yummy chewy meaty chunks in your soups and stews? You can ground them to add in your pasta sauce or chili. They are truly versatile and weight NOTHING!

If TVP is not readily available you could always bring some tofu. I like my scrambled tofu made from silken "Mori-Nu" tofu which comes in tetra pack package and does not need to be refrigerated.

Finally if you can't imagine your weekend without fresh fruits and vegetables, or if you do not mind carrying a little bit extra weight, make sure to limit the amount of fresh produce you will be bringing. One of the ways of doing it is using an insulated lunch box with an ice pack in it as a "measure". Fill it up with perishable goods, strap it on your pack or put it inside. Anything that did not fit would have to stay home! If you find lunch box too big, try one of the insulated plastic bags with an ice pack in it.

2 Make a menu
Camping supper is far from an experience you have in a fancy restaurant but you still need a menu. I believe that any camping food preparation should start with creating a menu. All you need is a piece of paper and some ideas about the food you want to have while camping. The menu serves several purposes:
First of all, it will help you to make your grocery list.
Secondly, menu will help you calculate how much of each item you would need. It would also make it easier for you to mix and match your ingredients: if you are taking a zucchini for your scrambled tofu you might want to serve pasta in the evening - to use the leftovers of zucchini. Bringing "multifunctional" food helps reduce the overall weight of your food bag.
Finally, with the menu you will know for sure how much and what you would be eating, it will help you to calculate the number of breakfasts, snacks, and suppers you'll be having. Bringing one extra meal is always good, but you don't want end up with too little snacks or too many breakfasts. Bringing too much extra food is the most common problem among novice hikers.
And yeah, menu would help you to have varied food throughout your camping - this is specially important for longer hikes, when you end up making same dishes over and over again.

3 Ration
The idea behind rationing is similar to the one behind menu - calculating how much food you bring and avoiding bringing too much. I am not big fan of food rationing in real life, however when camping any extra piece of food translates directly into weight.

4 Packaging
Not a lot of campers think about packaging of the goods that they are bringing. Compare the weight of a can of vegetables (+ the can opener) to the same amount of fresh vegetables. If you are not using the tin for anything - why bother bringing it with you? I know that some products are available only in cans and there is no way around it, but you could still minimize the weight by taking the smallest cans available.
With the meals in boxes, try to leave as much packaging at home as possible. Write down the cooking instructions on the plastic bag and leave the heavy cardboard at home.
Finally, if the amount of packed good is too big, do not hesitate to re-pack it in smaller Ziploc bags. You do not need 3 servings of vegetable couscous if you are leaving for one-night trip.

21 May, 2008

Crazy Cooking Crocheter???

Here is a little update for those of you who’ve been wondering what the crazy camping chick is up to. This winter I did some snowshoeing with my friends – lots and lots of fun. But since the winter was looooong and I could not snowshoe every day I picked up a new hobby: knitting and crocheting! I am so excited about it, and even though it has nothing to do with cooking or camping I thought of sharing some of my creations with you.

It all started after I heard the news that my very good friend (best childhood friend) in Tashkent gave birth to a baby girl. I decided that I have to send a little something for her, preferable hand-made. So I got some yarn and some hooks, and since I've been practicing crocheting for a little bit over a week, I started the baby carpet in extremely psychedelic color scheme (to tell you the truth, colors look rather tame on this photo):

After finishing the carpet, I wanted to continue crocheting, but make something smaller this time. I also wanted it to be useful and simple enough that if I would not get the design correctly I would still be able to use it. So the big winter sweater was out of the question, and I decided to crochet a dish cloth:
It was a fun and easy project and I decided to continue.
Next was this bright yellow purse that I now use to carry my current projects around:

After the blanket it was the biggest project so far. I really like the texture of the finished material and will probably use this stitch for something else in near future.

Finally, this morning I finished my hook case. I got 7 hooks as a Christmas gift and so far they've been stored in the empty chocolate box. Now they have a cozy home. This is how it looks from outside:

And inside it has room for 9 hooks:


The original case had buttons and would roll to "close". I am contemplating the idea of attaching some ribbons to mine, meanwhile I can just fol it in half to close and it actually stays closed!


I really hope that I would be able to find enough time to camp, cook, and crochet/knit. For now, while it is cold and rainy in Montreal, I'll keep knitting and crocheting!

P.S. The colors on the pictures are not as good as they are in real life. I definitely should start taking pictures during the day - daylight makes everything so much prettier!
P.P.S. I will post links and references to places where I got my patterns from very soon.