Yarn Along:: Chickens + Stripes

From Yarn Along with Ginny: ~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? 

This week I’m enjoying a beautiful new book that I received for my birthday. Written by a former restaurant chef cum suburban chicken herder,Chicken and Egg strikes the perfect balance between coopy rusticity and elegant food porn. This book instantly had me salivating over its delicious looking recipes and chicken-raising tales alike.

It even made me go out and buy a whole chicken to roast, something I haven’t done in a very long time.

You may remember when I participated in Heather Bruggeman’s 30-day vegan challenge and my subsequent step into a meat-free lifestyle. It’s been just over a year since then, and I’ve maintained that goal with the rare exception of a bite of bacon here and there, and a Valentine’s Day steak dinner I cooked for Sweetie.

All along, I’ve been comfortable with my choice not to eat meat the majority of the time, and being gentle with myself when I do. I’ve recently been taking another e-course with Heather, the Whole Food Kitchen workshop. In it she shares essays, book recommendations, weekly recipes, a live forum for participants to discuss weekly topics, and so much more.  I haven’t been able to give this 12-week course the full amount of time I had hoped, but I’m still getting a lot out of it. And it has made me think a lot about the food I eat, where it comes from, and how I want to feed my family.

When the recipe for Fast and Crispy Roast Chicken came calling the very same day I ready Heather’s essay on the benefits of small amounts of meat and dairy in one’s diet, I figured I’d give it a try.

The (local, happily free-range) chicken was fun to cook; sometimes veggie meals feel a bit like a collection of side dishes, and it is the rare find that satisfies everyone at the table these days. And while the chicken was indeed crispy and tasty, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would after all this time. I’m not sure where I’m going to go from here, or whether meat and poultry will be making a regular appearance at our family’s table. And that’s okay.  Rethinking one’s way of eating takes time, and, as I’m learning, a lot of patience and compassion for yourself along the way.

Anyway, on to the knitting!

I’m happily knitting away on the Dancette shawl for our shop KAL. Stockinette and a simple stripe pattern have been perfect project for knitting at work, at home in the evenings, and in the car. I’m almost ready to start the border, which promises to make for some delightful knitting.

ps-If you’re interested, I just noticed that Heather is offering a spring session of the 30-Day Vegan Challenge.

30 Day Vegan Challenge: Week 1 Update

I’ve been eating vegan for one week.  The first day was the hardest, by far, as it took some work to get into the right frame of mind to take on this challenge.  It was important to me that this not be a period of voluntary deprivation or vegan martyrdom,  but a chance to reconnect with real food and my body’s reaction to intense self-care.  Once the shopping and meal planning was done, things got much easier.  I find this to be true even when I’m not on a special eating plan (I abhor the word diet–this is a whole foods eating plan).  If I take the time to write up a simple menu with 4 or 5 meals and do the shopping for those meals, week nights are much easier.

Kale and Strawberry smoothie

So, how do I feel after eating vegan foods for one week?  I actually feel pretty great.  Some of my long-lost energy* is back, and I am enjoying this new breathing room in my day.  Eating this way has me looking for other opportunities to improve my daily life ,and having the energy to do more of what I want to do in a given day has me feeling a renewed sense of enthusiasm.  There has been some spring cleaning and redecorating, a trunk-load of stuff dropped off at Goodwill, I started a new knitting project and reorganized my craft supplies.  It has been good.

I feel a bit lighter physically as well, although I couldn’t say if I’ve lost any weight or not as we don’t own a scale.  I have always suspected that meat was difficult for me to digest, and often felt sluggish for a while after eating red meat in particular.  Without getting too colorful, let me just suggest that eating an almost entirely plant-based diet really keeps things moving along.

There have been some tough moments, particularly in the afternoon when the hungries hit.  A person can only eat so many smoothies and handfuls of nuts before they go a little nuts, too!  So this week I’m focusing on cooking with more proteins and fixing healthy snacks and baked goods to have around for in between meals.

I thought I would miss things like cheese and bacon a lot.  The fact is, when you’re concentrating on all the good, fresh foods you get to eat, you don’t miss the things you’re cutting out nearly as much.  The hardest moments were when we ate out and when I realized I couldn’t eat most prepared desserts.  Fortunately, I love to bake and we live in a very veg/vegan friendly town, so I have been able to enjoy great food by seeking out new restaurants and taking the time to look at labels more consciously.

*Breastfeeding side-note: I know of a lot of women who have cut dairy from their diet out of concern for their nursling’s reaction, be it allergies, reflux, or other sensitivities.  PB eats yogurt and cheese and doesn’t seem to have an intolerance to cow’s milk.  She has been sleeping great this week and seems to have more energy, too.  I can’t help but notice the correlation that as I eat and feel better, so does she.  I’m not saying all nursing mama’s need to be vegan, but it never hurts to be reminded that we need to eat good food, drink plenty of water, exercise, and rest as much as possible!

Of This & That

button bin at Stitches, all a-jumble like my brain today!

Some thoughts, updates, and bits of information, list style:

Knitting& Crafty Goodness

  1. After yesterday’s post, I took another look at Shalom and realized things weren’t as bad as I had made them out to be. My errors weren’t irreparable, and after just a few minutes I was back in the fast lane.  Today I will divide for the sleeves and get going on some soothing stockinette.  This is likely where I will be distracted by a new project, but that’s the way I roll.
  2. I happened across a copy of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Workshop dvd at the library last week, and have been enjoying her antics every afternoon.  PB’s naptime finds me on the couch with a cup of tea, my knitting, and EZ.  I thought there wouldn’t be too many surprises, but that lady has shaken the ground on a few things I knew for certain to be true.  For instance, did you know you could just throw in a backward loop cast on stitch as an increase, avoiding the fuss of those pesky m1’s?
  3. There’s a new issue of Rhythm of the Home up!  There’s also a new issue of Mothering out, and they have announced they will not be publishing print editions anymore.  Sad, but a sign of these digital times, I suppose.
  4. Kathy over at While Tangerine Dreams has been up to a whole lotta creative goodness.  Go check out her new Dream Consulting and Backwoods Mama Sewing Camp.  That lady is such a delightful inspiration! Kathy, I’m waiting for Backwoods Mama summer camp at your house!

Health & Home

  1. Throughout the course of this winter, I was sick a lot.  This is unusual for me: I maybe get a cold once a season.  I attribute my seemingly constant battle with one sickness or another to three things: poor sleep, increased exposure to germs at “kiddie” places, and lack of consistent exercise.  Having a little one in the house changes so many things, and one of the big things is how the parents care for themselves.  It is so common for women to put themselves last on the To Care For list, isn’t it?  I thought I was doing a good job of carving out creative time and practicing self-care.  The fact of the matter is, I have felt physically run down for months.  In an attempt to jumpstart my return to a more balanced, strong physical self, I will be participating in  a 30 Day vegan Challenge.  The idea of having a group of like-minded people working through this at the same time is comforting, and there will be recipes, support, and resources all along the way.  Let me make a couple of things clear: my intention is not to become full-on vegan, nor will I be imposing an animal-free diet on anyone else in my home.  It just so happens that Sweetie is on-board with eating vegan at home (she is at the mercy of my chef’s knife, after all), and is supportive of me and my goals.  It starts Monday; hopefully 3 days in we won’t be sneaking around or fighting over PB’s yogurt and cheese!
  2. I keep seeing other bloggers writing about all the time and thought they are putting into their gardens.  We have 3 large raised beds in our backyard and 2 small ones in front of our rental house, and I would love to grow some veggies.  Trouble is, I have no idea where to start!  Until I saw this rash of fertile blog posts, I thought I could just go down to the nursery once it got a bit warmer and just choose the things I’d like to eat and stick them in the ground.  I need your book and website recommendations, seasoned gardening advice, and general good wishes.
  3. Peaceful Baby is entering into a new phase where she is not so peaceful all the time.  Tantrums have arrived; I am amazed at the intensity of her reaction when I gently tell her no. There are tears, throwing of objects, raking of nails.  Fortunately, these little people are excellent at living in the moment and moving on quickly from intense moments.  I could learn something from PB’s ability to let things go and enjoy life as it comes.

That’s all for today!  Do you feel better after putting your thoughts down on paper (or blog) like I do?