November 25, 2007

OUR FIRST GLUTEN-FREE THANKSGIVING

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My dear husband had been having digestive difficulties for a few months. He had lost so much weight he now weighs what I do -- yikes! He was recently diagnosed with celiac disease.

We had never heard of it before, but it turns out to be not uncommon. Celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder that is triggered by eating the protein (gliadin) that is in wheat. The body puts out an attack on the gliadin, but ends up attacking itself in the small intestine; your ability to digest your food goes . . . well, right down the toilet . . . and you can end up malnourished. The only cure is to not ingest gliadin, which obviously means avoiding breads and pastas but also less obviously means avoiding all sorts of processed foods that contain wheat. Scott has discovered Whole Foods and we are eating more consciously.

So our Thanksgiving turkey went unstuffed this year. At one point I was going to make a rice stuffing for it, but one of those new recipes Scott had experimented with was a brown rice dish that has you saute carrots and zucchini and a small amount of fresh tomatoes, and mix that with cooked brown rice -- it's delicious! And I love every excuse to get more yellow vegetables into our diet, even in our pre-celiac disease days. So we had that rice dish as a side dish; along with asparagus, green salad, yams, and mashed potatoes. My eldest sister stepped up to the stove and made our first-ever cornstarch-thickened gravy, which was very tasty. (And I'll confess that the next day, for leftovers, I whirled the gravy through a blender and added some chicken stock to it -- no offense, DSis! -- and it was even tastier.)

Here are two foodie blogs I recommend, that are authored by women who have celiac disease:

Karina's Kitchen

and

Gluten-Free Girl

On a local note, roughly a decade ago, the "Gluten Free Girl" was teaching high school English and Scott's niece was in her class.

Also, locally, the Sunny Valley Wheat-Free bakery is next door to the Maple Valley Post Office, which is where I go daily to mail Two Swans packages.

After the initial shock of finding out that you can no longer tolerate gluten as you have been able to for the past, oh, 50-something years, we are finding foods that he can enjoy. We've discovered some gluten-free pastas and crackers that we like, and there's always fruits and vegetables, meats and eggs and fish -- and pass the brown rice, please!

Posted by Karen at 12:55 PM | Comments (10)

November 21, 2007

NOVEMBER HAPPENINGS

We're hosting Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, and so I'm brining the turkey this evening. While I'm waiting for the turkey to finish its time in its brine bath, I thought I could show you a few photos. (I mean, if you can't blog when it's going on 11 at night and the only reason that you're still up is that you're brining the turkey, when can you blog?)

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The first full week of November, I went to Tucson for a few days. My sister, who moved from our gloriously green corner of the country to spend her retirement years in Sedona, drove down to Tucson to meet me. We had gone out to do a little sightseeing, and when we returned to our hotel that night, the cacti flanking the driveway had been all lit up like Christmas. After spending most of her life around Douglas firs, Dear Sis just can't get enough of the saguaros. She ooh'ed and aaah'ed over the marvel of these lit up cacti. "You're never without your camera, Kar -- take a picture for me." So there was nothing for it but for me to stop the car, get out my camera, and crash around through the plantings and get stabbed by cactus needles, so I could get these photos.

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I was seriously concerned that hotel security was going to see us crashing around in the underbrush in the dark and decide we looked suspicious. Dear Sis kept telling me I was paranoid.

For the trip to Airzona, I neglected to pack any of the million-and-one tote bags that I already own. But my everyday purse was just too small, and my airplane carry-on bag was too big, for carrying around my knitting. So I splurged on a new Brighton bag:

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I love it! (I felt even slightly virtuous about this, since the price tag on this bag was a mere fraction of what the price was of that knitting bag that Naomi found while cruising the Nordstrom website.)
More cheesy touristy photos:

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Because I have a mail order business, I have some interest in the post office. Heck, I'm one of their best customers! So when I read that the Postal History Foundation has a museum in Tucson, I went there.

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Here I am, playing Postmaster General.

If you are a stamp collector, the Postal History Foundation is the place you want to go! In addition to the 1880s post office storefront, they also have cabinets full of all different kinds of stamps and these can be purchased.

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My tour guide shows me a drawer of foreign stamps; the sections are labeled: Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Portuguese India.

My days in Tucson were only too brief. And then it was back home, to real life and duties like homework knitting.

Earlier this week, Sandy came over for lunch. She also gave me a guided tour of Ravelry (she's blueheron, I'm KarenCampbell). I have not yet done much with my Ravelry account, because, frankly, it wasn't all that intuitive to me, but Sandy definitely has the hang of it and showed me the highlights. Oh, if only there were more hours in the day....

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Sandy in her O-Wool hat. Pattern available from Two Swans, of course.

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Sandy in her Bullseye Hat, knitted in Julia yarn. I'm ordering this yarn for Two Swans. I've been very impressed with how stretchy this yarn is, and it has a little bit of mohair content. I don't know what it is about mohair, but I have always been crazy about it.

Another view of the Bullseye hat:

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Sandy is the designer of the Midnight Sun tam and the Autumn tam. Several of us in the Feral Knitters group are planning to make one or the other (or both).

Well, the timer's going off, so I've got to go pull the turkey out of its brine bath. Here's wishing all my Ideaphoria readers a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Posted by Karen at 10:40 PM | Comments (4)

November 15, 2007

KNITTING TORTURE

Nihon Vogue knitting class met the first weekend of this month. Where last I left off on this topic, I was being tortured by what seemed like an insurmountable amount of knitting homework. I managed to get quite a lot of the homework completed, but not 100 percent of it. I had enough done that I could participate in most of the class activities, and I remain optimistic that I will get caught up by the time the class meets again in January.

Project 1 in this class is a vest, and the vest is required to have 1x1 ribbing. One of my classmates had knitted a very long portion of ribbing on her vest -- practically the whole vest below the bust down to the waist was ribbing. 1x1 ribbing tends to be wobbly, and this classmate remarked on that.

Jean said, "If you don't like it, I can show you how to fix it."

Jean had the most mischievous grin on her face. She picked up a piece of the vest, balled it up in her fists, and made a scrubbing motion. Scrub, scrub, scrub. "Now you can torture your knitting!" she said. She unfolded her hands, and voila! That portion of the ribbing was no longer wobbly.

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Why does 1x1 ribbing wobble? Back when I was knitting the lavender and white vest for the TKGA master knitter program, I experimented with all sorts of different ways to knit 1x1 rib. The ribbing wobbles because the left leg of the knit stitch is made in the same direction as the twist of the yarn; because of the energy in the twist of the yarn, the left leg of the knit stitch becomes prominent. If you are knitting a flat fabric back and forth, you'll get these alternating prominent left legs of stitches on the front and back sides of the fabric. It gives a wobbly appearance. In my O/C way, I knitted the ribbing for my TKGA vest many times over, trying different ways of wrapping the purl stitch or wrapping the knit stitch, to make that left leg prominence go away. I found that wrapping the knit stitch the wrong way makes the ribbing line up beautifully -- if you think about it, you are now wrapping the stitch in the opposite direction of the twist of the yarn, so there is no longer any tendency for the left leg of the knit stitch to get prominent. But the tradeoff in wrapping the knit stitch the wrong way is that you are using a fractionally less amount of yarn to create that stitch -- the less yarn in the stitch, the less elastic the ribbing will be. For my TKGA vest, I decided that I was better off having more elasticity in the ribbing, since it would have to fit around my middle, so I knitted the conventional way and just pulled my knit stitches as tight as I could to prevent that left leg prominence. Since I am already a tight knitter, I knitted that rib in a total death grip.

Now, I've learned from Jean another technique. I think the reason the scrubbing motion worked was that it released some of the energy in the twist of the yarn.

Posted by Karen at 08:51 AM | Comments (3)