Monday, January 29, 2007

Life's little ironies

Ok, I've definitely decided to make Joy out of my alpaca from Alpaca Jack's. I started working on the back this week and so far so good. The only thing I need is beads. I also decided to cook a wonderful casserole from Vegetarian Times Magazine, so it seemed logical to go to the supermarket by Divine Inspirations, the local bead shop, which is not the closet supermarket to my apartment. In fact, it's all the way on other side of town, but it made sense so that's what I did. When I finally get to Divine Inspirations, they were closed! I was so angry! They're closed on Sundays AND Mondays. Ridiculous! It's really not that big of a deal except I had a long day of classes and I wanted to make this friggin casserole. They lost a lot of business too. I need 5,000 beads!

Anyway, the casserole was wonderful. It has polenta on the bottom then a layer of tomatoes, squash, garlic, chiles, coriander, cumin, pinto beans, corn, onion, red pepper, and then another layer of polenta on top. The recipe is copied and pasted below. I didn't make the pumpkin seed pesto, but I'm sure it's delicious too. Though I don't think it's needed the casserole is fairly complicated in flavors as is.

After dinner, I went to the gym. It's seriously depressing to find out how out of shape one can get from one bad semester. I'll definitely be living in the gym this semester though. As I was leaving, some girls came in, clearly freshman. Keep in mind they were entering a gym. They strode up to the door and hit the handicapped button and waited for the door to open automatically. I suppose they were going to gawk at hot men and not for the work out. I started laughing, but they clearly didn't see the irony and just stared.
Three Sisters Casserole
Serves 6 -- Vegan
A Native American expression, “three sisters” refers to the practice of growing beans, corn and squash together. This filling casserole can be frozen for an upcoming party or made fresh for dinner.

Polenta Topping
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 Tbs. chili powder
3/4 tsp. salt

3 Tbs. olive oil,
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch dice (about 1 cup)
1 lb. kabocha squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes with chiles
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1 15-oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

1. To make Polenta Topping: Whisk together cornmeal, chili powder, salt and 4 1/2 cups water in double boiler, or in large metal bowl over barely simmering water. Cook 40 minutes, or until polenta is thick and stiff, stirring 3 or 4 times. Remove from heat.
2. To make Filling: Preheat oven to 375F. Heat 2 Tbs. oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 7 minutes, or until softened, stirring often. Add bell pepper, and cook 5 minutes more, stirring often.
3. Stir in squash, tomatoes, garlic, coriander and cumin. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/2 cup water and salt. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, and simmer, partially covered, 10 to 15 minutes, or until squash is tender. Stir in beans and corn, and cook 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.
4. Coat 8x11-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 2 cups polenta over bottom of prepared dish. Spoon squash mixture over polenta. Smooth remaining polenta (about 2 1/2 cups) over top.
5. Score casserole into 6 squares with knife. Brush top with remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Bake 30 minutes, or until heated through and top is lightly browned. Serve with Pumpkin Seed Pesto (below).

Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Makes 1 cup, Vegan, 30 minutes or fewer

This pesto adds an elegant, flavorful touch to the Three Sisters Casserole. Try it as an alternative to salsa on nachos as well. Pumpkin seed oil is stocked with other specialty oils in many supermarkets, but you can substitute olive oil in a pinch.

1 cup unsalted hulled (green) pumpkin seeds
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seed oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tsp. salt
pinch cayenne

1. Toast pumpkin seeds in large skillet over medium heat, 4 to 5 minutes, or until puffed and golden, stirring constantly.
2. Transfer seeds to food processor. Add remaining ingredients, and process until smooth. Serve with Three Sisters Casserole, or store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to a week.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

What a Weekend!

I had a great weekend. Saturday it was 55 degrees here and I got to ride my motorcycle in to Mosaic. Purl came in too! She really is the cutest little puppy. Anyway, I ended up taking a ride over to the New River. It's gorgeous! I love water. That sounds weird, but it wasn't that long ago that I was doing stream ecology research. The worst part was I had to drive on gravel. You try balancing a 300 pound piece of equipment on gravel! Not fun, not fun at all.

I meant up with Cassie, my ex-roommate and best friend (it's my sister in the photo not Cassie I'll post one of her later), to see Volver at the Lyric. It was nominated for a few Oscars and I guess I was expecting a lot. It was good, but not fabulous. I really didn't think Penelope Cruz was that great in it either. Actually, I thought she was sort of flat. We ate some Cajun food and I had a great beer. If you like dark beer, try Road Dog it's made by flying dog. Extremely good winter beer.

Then this morning Cassie and I went to my favorite restaurant for breakfast. Gillie's! It's absolutely delicious and a vegetarian restaurant too! After that I cleaned my kitchen. Those of you who know me well understand how unusual that is. And I really cleaned it, I even mopped. I know my Uncle Tony, Mom, and sister will be proud. There are a lot of people in my family that are neat freaks, but I didn't get the gene. I'm kind of a mess really. The whole kitchen is spotless however!

My weekend was finished with some sushi, kobe, a nice riesling, ben and jerry's, and Shopgirl. On top of all that the ground is covered in snow, so I know I have a happy boss! I feel completely ready for the week to come.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

These are a few of my favorite things

Everybody has that list of things they want to do before they die. Today I discovered a few more I want to add on, but before I get to that here are a few of my current goals.

  • Be fluent in 5 languages (I'm going to have to work harder on this one since I've been taking French off and on for about 12 years and am still not fluent)
  • Knit a shawl out of vicuna
  • Learn how to spin
  • Own alpacas, angoras, a cinnamon quarter horse, and goats
  • Make my own wine
  • Get ripped, but not scary she-male ripped
  • Live in Europe for at least a year, or own a home there
  • Hike in the rainforest
  • Climb Denali
  • Visit every Continent

And now for the recent additions... I found these adventures at REI. Here's the link

  • go to Antarctica (They take a helicopter from an icebreaker into an Emperor Penguin colony. You get to see the chicks!)
  • Climb Kilimanjaro (After the climb you can go on a safari and then take a balloon ride over the Serengeti)
  • Multi-sport in Australia
  • Hike in Laos and Cambodia
  • Hike the Julian Alps

I'm sure there are more places I will want to visit when I find them, but those are the top ones of the moment. I guess I better sell a crap load of yarn. What are your top things to do before you die?

By the way, I'd like you all to meet Bear Grylls. Watch his TV show, Man vs Wild! He is seriously badass and sexy!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Picking a pattern

Ok, so turns out Gaia and I are not yet one, because I definitely had class today. All the more reason for me to hike more and really get in tune with mother earth.

Anyway, I have all of this gorgeous chocolate colored alpaca just sitting around and no pattern yet. It's a sport weight yarn, so I've had a little trouble finding a pattern I really like. Most of the modern patterns are not knit on a very small needle. A lightning bolt stuck today and I realized that I should look through the vintage knits book. Eureka, it seems a lot of these vintage inspired knits are made from a lighter weight yarn. So here are my choices and feedback would be greatly appreciated. For all of you nonbloggers out there anyone can leave a comment and I love reading them!
First, is Joy. The down side to this snazzy little sweater is about 5,000 beads, but hey I'm patient. Or at least I will be if I ever finish this.

Second, is Charlot. I'm not very good at embroidery, but I'll figure it out when I get there.

And last, is Fleur. I really like this sweater, but I think I might get bored. It's worth it though if the sweater will be fabulous.

Ok, which is your favorite?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Oh the suspense

I love this part of school! The part when a winter storm is coming through the area and I might not have class tomorrow! Woo hoo! It's just like the night before Christmas. Yes it has snowed and sleeted all day, now the challenge to mother earth is to freeze it. Ha ha ha, Gaia and I are already working as one. Our minds have combined to force Virginia Tech to cancel classes. Well, I hope anyway. Ya, ya, ya class just started and I should be pumped about it. If you were me, a senior, and facing an incredibly boring paper for evolutionary genetics about introns, wouldn't you hope for the same thing? I thought so.

The not so fun part of my day was being sick. However, being sick does have its advantages. For instance, when one is sick and one is confined to bed, it is absolutely necessary to order Chinese and knit all day. O yes, Mimi beware. While you were searching Blacksburg for Nintendo Wii, I was knitting lizard ridge squares and bringing myself back into the lead! I'm working on my 14th square and have 12 put together. It just occurred to me that one of the Wii games should be competitive knitting. I can just picture knitters from all over the world logging on to knit a pair of socks the fastest. I'd totally play.

Browsing through my pics, I've decided it would be fun to share a few photos of my trip this summer to Alaska. The first of which is one of my favorites. I was hiking through the woods and came upon a clearing. I was by myself, but was following all hiking precautions icluding my bear bell and singing to myself. I saw about 100 yards away two Grizzlies. I remember thinking, "ok what is it I'm supposed to do? Run away screaming, no that's not it; stop, drop, and roll, nope different emergency." I just stood there and waved my arms sheepishly saying hey bear, hey bear. Well of course it worked. I mean what could two 5 or 6 hundred pound animals do to me? Anyway, I took a picture after this encounter and here it is. I suspect I'll have a similar expression when I'm named "Lizard Ridge Champion"!
The last two are of Denali, aka Mt McKinley. That's about as close as I got, but one day I'll climb her. The last is of a Dall Sheep, brilliantly taken through my binoculars. Pretty, isn't he?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

You know you're a knitting nerd when....

You're TI- 89 graphing calculator is used to help you with gauge not calculus.

Your top homework assignment is to write on your blog.

In math class you ignore the professor and use graphing paper to write up new patterns.

The first Sunday of every month is devoted to taking your yarn inventory.

You knit socks in class.

You don't use a pocket protector, but you do have a case to protect your needles.

You TiVo Knitty Gritty.

You had to construct a library with a floor to ceiling rolling ladder to house your knitting book collection.

You compete with knitting friends to see who can make lizard ridge faster.

You knit the binary code scarf in the latest Knitty issue.

Are you a knitting nerd?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bloggin in the Burg

I know I've been's been literally weeks since my last blog. Luckily, I don't think that many people read it yet so hopefully I haven't disappointed anyone. I have loads to talk about, but I'll start with the beginning of this semester. I'll get to New York tonight or tomorrow.

Anyway, I'm taking 19 hours. Those of you who are pessimists may think this is far too many hours, but I'm an expert at time management (when I want to be). 19 hours is really not that many to me since I don't have many extra curriculars this semester. I'm taking plant taxonomy, general zoology, evolutionary genetics, economics of food and fiber systems, statistics, global ethics, and finally a completely bogus physics lab. Plant taxonomy is going to be sweet, I hike and I want to know more about the plants in the area. The second half of the lab is just walking in the woods and IDing plants. I'll be in hog heaven! Global ethics is interesting too. Today in class we were assigned numbers and divided into 4 groups; wealthy people, middle class, working class, and lower class. I, obviously, was of the highest class. We were given these sheets of paper with toxic waste written on them and we had to get other groups to take it. They didn't know it was toxic, ha ha ha.

To get myself through some of the other more boring class, I knitted! I have decided that I am definitely a sock knitter. They are my knew garter stitch scarf. I just love that you can get sock yarn in gorgeous colors and patterns so all I have to do is stockinette stitch. So this afternoon I went to my statistics teacher after class and asked him if it was ok if I knit. After which I took a deep breath and was chanting in my head "please say yes, please say yes". If you've never taken stat before, it's insanely boring! Without my knitting, I may just have to stab myself in the leg with a fork to make sure I'm still alive. He said "wow, no one has ever asked me that one before". He then said " um, I guess so. As long as you don't knit anything that's offensive". A million things ran through my head, the first of which was what I could I knit that was offensive. Now I did recently see knit pasties in a book, which is great for all those strippers out there who are busy knitting in their spare time, but I can assure you I'm not one of them. The next thing I thought I could make was a knit tapestry that says Stat sucks, maybe with a few choice expletives in there. While I think that is an excellent idea, even I can't knit intarsia and really pay attention in class. Finally asked "Do you find socks offensive?" I was expecting a laugh or just a simple no. Instead he said "well I guess it depends on what you do with them". I just gave a weak laugh and really didn't know what to say. I just kept thinking what exactly is this guy doing with his socks, and I hope no one is hand knitting these socks that he has found such an offensive use for. In the end though I can knit in class which is good, but now every time I go I'll think about that mysterious offensive use. Any ideas?

Thursday, January 4, 2007

New York, Here I Come!

Tomorrow, my mom and I are headed out to New York! We are driving up early in the morning and plan to spend most of the day touring the yarn shops. The last time I went to New York I wasn't as focused on yarn, so I've actually never been to NYC yarn shops. I'm very excited! I plan to map out our route on the way. My top stops are Purl, Knit New York, and Habu Textiles. I also want to hit some good vintage/ discount clothing stores. I highly recommend Canal Jean Co. in Soho. I've found great things there for only $20.

My sister is taking the train there (so metropolitan of her) and we'll meet her. We're also meeting our uncles ; Uncle Bill, red and Tony, blue (color of sweater, not political affiliation). I think we're planning on eating at a vegetarian restaurant too! I'm so tired of eating spinach artichoke dip at restaurants. Apparently the restaurant industry decided the only thing on every menu that's vegetarian is that @$%#ing dip. You can't even get a salad without meat on it!

I also hope to run into this gentleman! Do you thing he likes obsessive compulsive knitters?