Monday, August 6, 2007

Just Checking In...

Getting ready for vacation! What could be better than that? In some ways, the preparation for vacation is more exciting than the actual vacation! You have all the anticipation: imagining lying on the perfect beach with the warm sun beating down upon you. In actuality, the beach may be stinky with seaweed, or buggy, or muggy. You get to plan your snacks for the joyous family drive, which, somewhere in the back of your mind, you know will be anything BUT joyous. You imagine perfect weather, though you did buy that hurricane insurance, just in case. Optimistic, yes. Stupid, no.

Still, I'm folding the laundry and setting aside piles of stuff and making my lists, holding on to my vacation innocence for as long as possible. Looking forward to seeing Deb and Nancy and exploring the Asheville, NC area a bit. Excited about long, lazy days on the Outer Banks. Oh, and don't forget those frozen drinks!

Okay, stepping back into the here-and-now for just a few moments! I thought I was done with Sockotta sock #1. Honest, I did! I did the super stretchy knit bind-off around the cuff and, while I did have a brief, fleeting thought of "that leg looks a little short," I quickly shrugged it off. NO WAY! I always make my leg 7 inches long! I slipped my foot into the sock. The foot was an absolutely perfect fit! I pulled the sock up onto my...?ankle? It was way too short, and I immediately knew why. When I make cuff down socks, I always knit 7 inches +/-, THEN I knit the heel flap... which adds 2-1/2 inches or so. Oh. I just had that 7 inches in my mind, so I knit the leg of the toe-up sock 7 inches, INCLUDING the heel! Where did my brain go?

Okay, I did let myself think I was okay with a short-legged sock for a couple of hours, but that didn't last long. I knew I had to fix it. This required major surgery. I had worked the leg pattern, then 1 inch of ribbed cuff, then the stretchy, intricate, never-to-be-removed bind-off. I had to get out my scissors. I threaded my needles into the socks below the cuff and I CUT the yarn below the bind-off, until I found a spot where I could unravel the leg down to my needles. Sounds easy enough, except that I picked up some of the purl stitches in the row below the knit stitches, so I had to spend some time with the tiny crochet hook, picking up all those dropped stitches. Still, I fixed it, knit up to 9+ inches, bound off again, and began sock #2. Whew.

I am taking all my fall knitting magazines on vacation, to better plan and strategize my fall knitting. I'm not sure who I think I'm kidding: fall knitting will be the same as always; a few hats, mittens, scarves, and socks. I'll start a sweater. Maybe I'll finish LAST fall's sweater! Then, the spring knitting magazines will come out and I'll start dreaming of tank tops again.

Some of my most interesting cooking adventures this summer have been exploring the foods I have received from my CSA farmer, Jill. I have heard of all of these foods before, even tasted many of them cooked by someone else, but I haven't ventured there myself. Kohlrabi, pattypan squash, and okra have all been explored for the first time. (Well, I've dumped okra in gumbo or soup, but I've never addressed it on its own:-) I've learned that, for my family, cheese is the ultimate food saver. The kids will eat ANYthing, and I do mean anything, if it has cheese on it. Funky vegetable? Add cheese, they eat it. Personally, it's not my thing, but you gotta do what you gotta do. (The second ultimate food saver is ketchup, but we won't go there:-)

This is how I made my okra. It won't make you an okra lover if you hate the stuff, but it's NOT slimey and at least Kaitlin and I loved it! (no cheese, by the way!)

1 Tbs olive oil
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bag of okra
1 large tomato, diced
salt and pepper and cayenne, to taste

In a large skillet, drizzle the olive oil, scatter the garlic, and spread the okra. Turn the heat on low and cook for 10 minutes, til things start heating up. Don't stir it. Scatter the diced tomato on top, cover with a lid, and cook over low heat for another 30 minutes or so. Don't stir, but you can sort of lift it around a bit to mix up the garlic. Salt and pepper to taste, a dash of cayenne if you wish, and that's it. Eat it up.

I think it's good to mix things up once in a while, don't you? Everyone didn't love the okra, but it was different. I made a corn and quinoa pilaf for the kids, not expecting much, but they LOVED it! You just never know.

I just have to throw in, this goes for yoga practice, too. I found myself in a rut and began doing things in a different order, holding some poses longer, trying new stuff, and it really rejuvenated my practice!

So, variety IS the spice of life. If all else fails, add cheese.