I went to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY this past weekend. (We stayed in Hudson, NY, in a beautiful B&B in the woods, which is whole 'nother post. For now, let's just say I'd like to move.) I really love the Sheep and Wool Festival. It's like a giant farmers' market for fiber enthusiasts. Just like the farmers' market, it offers a wonderful way for knitters, crocheters, spinners and others to see where all that fiber comes from, and how it gets from the animal (or plant) all the way to that gorgeous hand knit sweater or shawl or whatever.
I spoke to the people who made a lot of the yarn I bought. I got some natural (undyed) alpaca yarn from an alpaca named Anita, for instance. (I didn't get to speak with Anita herself, unfortunately, but her owner was awfully nice).
We saw herding dogs give a frisbee demonstration. We saw some sheep and even some angora rabbits being sheared. I stopped by the Journey Wheel booth, because ChuckieT has been incredibly enthusiastic about having me learn to spin lately. And I got drawn in. I bought a gorgeous drop spindle (it looks something like this) and the owner of the booth spent fifteen minutes teaching me how to use it. Then I went to another booth (I'm embarrased to say I didn't write down the name) and said "I'm a brand new spinner, and I'm told I should start with this kind of roving." The owner of that booth wouldn't let me buy anything. She gave me samples of various kinds of fiber to practice on first. She wouldn't let me pay!
And that's, I think, what prompted me to post. The generosity that's inherent in the fiber community is astounding. I've been trying to figure out why? What most of us have in common is really only the love a particular craft. Otherwise we're as different as any given random sample of the population. And yet I've seen it again and again. Knitters and crocheters making blankets and scarves and sweaters to send to people who need them. Afghans for Afghans, the Red Scarf Project (note: this link is to a zip file with the poster for this year's project). Chemo hats and newborn hats for hospitals. And those who are experienced seem to feel that it's just another part of the craft to pass it on to anyone who wants to learn.
Is it something about the ancient nature of it all? That's part of what I love about knitting. That my grandmother taught me how to do it. And she learned from her mother and grandmother and so on and on. And so it's a way to touch history. My own as well as that of the human race.
I don't know. I do know that two strangers can be sitting somewhere, say on the subway, ignoring one another as strangers tend to do.
But let one of the bring out some knitting and if the other is a
knitter too, they'll start talking, compare projects, maybe even let
each other know about a great knitting meetup. Email addresses may be
exchanged. Help will surely be given if needed.
Einstein doesn't usually show up here on the The Delightfully Healthy Blog, but science and art are often more closely related than one would think, especially at the theoretical level. And, hey, everybody eats. Anyway, I was reading an article in The New York Times about the Large Hadron Collider, regarding the possibility that the reason it hasn't worked yet is that it is being sabotaged by its own future. (Bend your mind around that!) And then Einstein pipes up with this:
My mind is reeling with the poetic possibilities. I wonder if Audrey Niffenegger has seen this?
In other news, my tummy is all happy because I made it some comfort food last night. (Okay, segues are not my strong suit. Nonetheless...) Roasted brussels sprouts and tempeh, covered in tahini. Yes, I do consider brussels sprouts to be a comfort food. Especially when they're roasted. And covered in tahini. Really, it's like vegan mac and cheese. Not that I am a vegan, but I cook like one occassionally. And the dish is so simple and quick and warming and nutty and roasty and ... well, good.
Just take a bunch of brussels sprouts, wash them and slice them in half. Place them in a roasting dish (I usually use an 8x8 Pyrex dish) and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Put in a 450 degree oven and stir once, about 6 or 7 minutes in. In 15 to 20 minutes you'll have little bright green jewels with carmelized, nutty brown bits, both soft and chewy and utterly delicious.
For the tempeh, get out a frying pan (I prefer cast iron) and get it nice and hot. Pour in olive oil and put in a sliced clove of garlic and cubes or strips (whichever you prefer) of tempeh to sear. Turn the tempeh after a minute or so, or when one side begins to turn brown.
When everything is ready, mix the brussels sprouts and tempeh together and pour tahini liberally over the top. A few grinds of fresh black pepper finishes it off and you have one of my favorite comfort meals. If you're feeling particularly hungry, put the whole thing over brown rice or quinoa or whatever grain you enjoy. Usually, the sprouts and tempeh are filling enough for me.
1/3 cup tahini (ground sesame seeds) 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced, depending on taste 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1/4 cup olive oil Sea salt and pepper to taste Water
Put everything but the water into a bowl or jar and mix together. (I like to use a jar, so the mixing can be done by putting on the lid and shaking. So easy! Plus, it's already in its storage container. Just pop the leftovers in the 'fridge.) Add water slowly until you reach your desired consistency. The amounts above are approximate, since I rarely measure when making tahini anymore. But that's where you get to make the recipe your own. And that's what makes cooking fun!
While you're enjoying the dish, think about the fact that time travel is now an accepted field of study within the scientific community. Or just savor the sensations in your mouth, and hope you'll get to have them again sometime recently soon.
The weather is so perfectly Northeastern Fall today. Crisp, sunny, clear. Before I prune my basil I just had to photograph the delicate, brilliant tangles. It's not your basic sweet basil. It's something I found at the nursery this past Spring, called Dwarf Dark Opal Basil. It has a very interesting flavor. Mustier, and more exotic. And the color of the plant is just gorgeous - dark green though to rich, pale purple. No wonder it's used as an ornamental bush as well as a cooking herb. Anyway, enjoy!
My wonderful friend Claudia invited ChuckieT and me to lunch to meet her parents on Saturday. She had the brilliant idea of making the event a snack-fest. Salsa, gaucamole, carrots, celery, cheese, peaches. It turned out to be quite a spread, and the company was even better. There was lots of laughter, lively conversation and dogs and cats running around endearing themselves and having a great time. (Well, the dogs were running around. The cats were mostly napping and/or hiding. They think my dogs are weird.) Sometimes, when I'm trying to explain how things other than food can nourish us, I'll ask the person I'm speaking with to think about the last time they had a really memorable meal. What was it about the meal that made it so great? (Usually, we're talking memorable in a good way, although it could work the other way, too. But I like to keep things positive whenever possible.) The food itself is often pretty far down the list. The company comes first a lot. The atmosphere. The reason for the meal - a celebration, a commemoration of something, a reunion, perhaps. When we feel relaxed and happy. When we like who we're with and where we are. When no one is checking their watch so they can rush off to the next thing. That's when food can taste the best, and our bodies can digest it well. It's those things surrounding the meal, that are also feeding us, that make it all work so well. Of course, really good food doesn't hurt, either.
This was one of those memorable meals.
As it happened, so far were we from rushing off that we didn't finish lunch until nearly dinner time. Which meant that I didn't need much for dinner. Since ChuckieT and I had decided to rent a movie (Away We Go - I HIGHLY recommend it!), and I felt the need to eat something green, I fired up the oven to make one of my favorite things: roasted greens. I look forward to roasting season all year. Usually I use kale, which is hardy and strong and comes out nicely crisp. But what I had on hand this time was tat soi - a lovely, spicy little green that I hadn't heard of until a few years ago. What the heck, I thought. What's the worst that could happen? As it turned out, the worst thing was that I thought for a minute or two that I had simply sauteed some greens in the oven. A little on the overkill side, but not bad. Then, at ChuckieT's suggestion, I waited a little longer. Bingo! Nice half-crispy, half-chewy little clumps of deliciousness. Ahhhhhhh. The only downside was that there wasn't more. Greens shrink A LOT.
Roasted Tat Soi (or Kale, or Collard Greens or Bok Choy or...)
1 container/bunch/head fresh tat soi or green of your choice Olive oil to coat Sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash greens and dry them thoroughly. Tear into bite-sized pieces (if necessary) and place on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil - not too much, or the green won't crisp - and toss to coat. (This is where I use my hands and get in some gratuitous skin softening. Great for the cuticles!) Sprinkle with sea salt and place in oven. Roast for 5-6 minutes, toss, then continue roasting until most leaves are crispy - at least at the edges - but not burnt.
Eat with fingers, fresh out of the oven, while enjoying a movie of your choice. Feel virtuous that you're not eating popcorn or milk duds. Then forget to feel virtuous as the salty, roasty flavor makes your mouth all happy.