Category Archives: vegan

New venture

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I do apologise if this blog gets a little quieter in future. However I have been working on setting up a brand new website/blog all about the benefits of a Whole Food Plant Based diet.

Having been vegan for thirty years, and getting more and more interested and informed on the plethora of scientific evidence that this is the way of the future, I wanted to start putting my money where my mouth was, as it were. Actually, I have, for now, set up a free WordPress blog, so no financial investment at this time. However since graduating from the Centre for Nutrition Studies Plant-based nutrition course at eCornell, and even before that, I have wanted to do something concrete to help get the word out.

I know there are many resources out there, but each website, book or documentary adds a little more to the mix, and different approaches appeal to different people. Even if only a handful of people get the message via my new blog, and it makes a difference in their lives, then it is worth doing.

The yarn has been lying dormant for a couple of days while I played with Squarespace (professional but even though it is supposedly user-friendly I found it frustrating to set up), considered my options (do I want to commit to a monthly fee for a site which won’t be generating income, at least initially), investigated the WordPress options (from free up to $30 a month, depending) and just dived in to a regular basic blog because I just wanted to get started already!

Setting up the blog took a bit of time, getting the first two posts published, creating a new Facebook page, opening up a new Twitter account, and I needed to get out for a walk in the evening to burn off some of the tension of all that laptop time.

I’d love it if you were to check out my new website, Grains, Greens, Berries & Beans. Long name but I like the alliteration and the other options I considered were already taken. My youngest son helped with the logo that appears on my Facebook and Twitter profiles. I gave him my idea on paper and he translated it into digital!

I have so much information to share that it will take a long time to publish just what I already have planned, and of course new things are appearing on the web all the time. I hope to create a comprehensive resource for all things related to the Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle. I’m excited to get on with it.

Thanks for visiting.

 

WIPs and Windows

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I do like a bit of alliteration, don’t you? The title just flowed out of my fingertips.

I am holed up in my bedroom this morning. This is Day Three of the window/door installers invading our house at 8am and changing out all the windows and doors. That’s about 15 windows, a sliding patio door,  and three regular external doors. The first day, I was at work most of the day, so it was just the two boys who were at home, literally chilling out! We had to turn the heat down because there was so much activity, with guys coming in and out, windows coming out and new ones going in. And the noise! Hammering, drilling, voices, music.

Day Two was ok as they were mostly working downstairs and the thermostat is upstairs so it was fairly comfortable.  Today I have turned it down again as they are doing the three doors, one of which is in the kitchen on the upper floor.

I know we will have a much warmer, quieter house when all is said and done, but poor old Tai Chi Man now has a new job on his home maintenance list. That of painting the primed window frames inside. We will have to get the bathroom and kitchen ones done ASAP so they are sealed against moisture.

Lurking in my bedroom is actually rather pleasant. I brought tea in here, my laptop, crochet, iPad (you know, all the essentials), I have an en suite half bathroom, so I can stay here while the guy working in the kitchen does his thing.

And I took a couple of quick photos of my WIPs to show you…

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It’s hard to get this all in one photo, but I am working bottom to top on this baby blanket,  (that’s a link to my Ravelry project page) and right to left. The green of the caterpillar is now coming in. There are only two plain white rows of hexagons in the whole blanket, which is good, as the colours make it more interesting to crochet. I am being sure to weave in all ends as I go and with the join-as-you-go method there will be minimal finishing.

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This second WIP is the Dreamy Lace Baby Throw from Lion Brand. (My project page.)

My boss said the other day at work that someone had over-ordered on the pink Red Heart With Love so she gave me a ball of it to work up a small baby blanket. The pattern asked for Pound of Love, and this ball is only 7oz, so rather than chaining 141 I did 101 to make a smaller version. The ball suggests a 6.5mm hook and that’s what I’m using. After the initial set up row, it’s a one row pattern with an easily memorised repeat. This progress was made last night at a friend’s house.

Before picking up this pink project again, I will be adding more to the caterpillar blanket, as time is ticking by and there’s a baby on the way.

My plant-based nutrition course is going really well. I have completed two parts now – Nutrition and Society, and Diseases of Affluence. Next, putting it all into practice – Applying the Whole Food Plant Based Diet principles. This third part starts today and has to be completed in the next two weeks.

I noticed that Forks Over Knives has a cooking course starting at the end of the month – it’s $349 if you sign up now, $399 after the 21st. I was tempted to go for it but then I realised that the information may be presented in the course that I am already paying for. So I’ll see how that goes, then if I feel I need more,  perhaps they will offer it again at a later date.

If you haven’t watched the Forks Over Knives documentary, I highly recommend it. It’s one of many documentaries that are available now on healthy eating to prevent and reverse chronic disease. A quote from one of the doctors on the course, “Food is the chemotherapy that you take three times a day.” That’s why it’s the most important thing you can do for your health.

OK, time to get some yarny stuff done. Have a wonderful day 🙂

 

 

 

January WIP update

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The time flies by! I just checked the date of my last post and it was 6 days ago! And I had forgotten I already showed you my stash flash, because I was about to post the photos…again!

Hmmm, guess my brain is all full up.

The Hungry Caterpillar blanket isn’t coming along as quickly as it should, but here’s the progress so far…

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The first two (green) segments of the caterpillar’s body are now incorporated. I’m working right to left on each row, and this is row 4 of 9. The edges are curling a bit, which will all be fixed when I add the border. I could have used a 5.5mm hook, with hindsight, and if I had I could have used my Addi Swing hook. Ah well, too late now.

Have you heard the word “hygge?” It’s a word that’s being bandied about on the interwebz and it is a Danish word with a complex meaning that needs a bunch of English words to describe it! A friend and I have started a women’s group of the same name. We had the first gathering last night at my house. Just four of us for the first one, though I’d like to add a few more. One woman recently had a baby and brought him along. OMG, newborns are so tiny and cute. I asked her to give the caterpillar hat a trial run, because I was nervous about the size. It was PERFECT! So I guess I don’t have to make another one.

And funnily enough, Kathryn of Crafternoon Treats was talking about the exact same thing in Episode 24 of her podcast that I watched today.  Have you seen her podcast before? I love it.

Last night, one friend was knitting on a pair of socks, another was knitting a rat cave which she intended to felt, and I was crocheting a really easy cowl. I wanted something I could do mindfully and mindlessly at the same time! You know what I mean? You can concentrate and enjoy the lovely fuzzy feeling that comes with forming the stitches with the colourful yarn, and if you want to chat you can continue crocheting because every row is the same and easy to memorise.

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This is Loops & Threads Facets. 100% acrylic, a bulky yarn in the colourway Capri Blue. This is a daylight shot but it still doesn’t do it justice. At the end of the first skein, I had a piece 20 inches long, which wasn’t quite long enough to join into a cowl. So as I was going to be starting the second ball anyway, I decided just to use up the whole of the second ball too and hopefully get a cowl that I can double up around my neck. I doubled the amount of pattern repeats across as my yarn isn’t anywhere near as bulky as the one used in the original design. Agnes Lace Cowl

Since starting this, I have become quite attached to it. Rather than give this one away, I may just weed out and donate some of the other older accessories I have. I might even make a hat to match (time to grab a Michaels coupon)!

Well, I must make some more progress on the blanket and also put a couple of hours in on my eCornell plant-based nutrition course. I’m at mid-point right now. Halfway through the second module of three. I am learning a lot and it’s getting me all fired up to share more with people about the health benefits of a whole food plant-based diet. I am cooking without added oil now and the kids are having to get used to dinners without fake cheese. Whilst we are keeping maple syrup in the house, once the coconut sugar is gone I won’t be buying any more. Ditto the white flour.

I am being a lot more outspoken on my personal Facebook page about animal rights at the moment. I’m sure some of my FB friends would like to/have blocked my posts but the truth really does have to come out. And it will, one way or another.

Hope you’re having a compassionate week.

The aftermath…

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Well hello folks. I hope you have had an enjoyable few days. If you celebrate Christmas, I trust your day was awesome, filled with family fun, good food and warmth.

Christmas Eve was a quiet one, with my commitments including bread-making (so that I had wholewheat and white bread for the Brazil Nut Roast the next day) and pastry making (again for the nut roast). I did a quick search online for rough puff pastry as the commercial frozen pastry has crappy ingredients, and I found this one which turned out brilliantly. Making it a day early and refrigerating overnight probably helped it to be flaky and delicious.

Christmas Eve dinner for the five of us was a very basic nut roast made from almonds, cashews and pecans, plus scalloped potatoes from a recipe from the very wonderful Silver Hills vegetarian guest house recipe book, and salad. I got a bit carried away and made two desserts from the same book – a pear coconut pie and chocolatey pecan squares.

Day 1 – stuffed!

Entertainment involved watching The Nightmare Before Christmas (creepy, Jack Skellington reminds me of the pin men on an old British TV show that gave me nightmares) and Cards Against Humanity, played in front of a real fire for a change.

Christmas Day morning was relaxed as we decided to have dinner rather than lunch as we planned to go to the movies to see Rogue One in the evening. I crocheted most of these slippers that day, which I am very pleased with…

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They have non-slip fabric on the bottom which I bought from work. These took most of a skein of Red Heart With Love in Mallard, two strands held together, and a 7mm hook. The pattern is Slipper Boots by Erika Knight. It is an ingenious design, easy to understand and execute. I think it will be simple to adjust it for bigger feet too and I’m thinking of making another pair for Tai Chi Man’s uncle (he visited last year and absolutely loved and appreciated the slippers I made him).

So the prep for Christmas dinner was pushed back to the afternoon, and that involved assembling the Brazil nut roast (while watching Love Actually for the tenth time on my laptop), parboiling the potatoes for later roasting, cutting up the Brussels sprouts and carrots and broccoli. I roasted the sprouts along with the potatoes, steamed the carrots and broccoli, and made a simple gravy. Plus of course we had hot apple cider as always. Dessert was Bananas Foster without the rum, which basically means simmering them briefly in a sweet caramel sauce. The recipe is in my Betty Goes Vegan book, which is always over the top on sugar, and I cut the maple syrup quite drastically. We had it spooned over plain cashew So Delicious ice cream.

Day 2 – stuffed!

The movie, Rogue One (a Star Wars prequel to Episode 4)  was good, full of loud explosions and storm troopers and rebels of course.

We rounded off the day with hot chocolate and vegan marshmallows.

Tai Chi Man and I didn’t have to work today so it’s been another day of relaxed vegging on the couch, finishing off the slippers, checking out my new Twitter account (I am now on Twitter @nicolaknits) and eating leftovers. The kids are still in bed at 1.30 in the afternoon. We have horizontal snow blowing past the house which doesn’t exactly inspire me to get outside.

I am thankful.

 

FO: Girly Santa hat

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I am excited about my new Finished Object…

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I don’t know how much wear this hat will get over Christmas but for some reason I just had to make it.

This lovely boucle Astrakan stuff works perfectly as a brim but crocheting it was out of the question. You just can’t see the stitches. It’s too much of a gamble. So I pulled out the old straight knitting needles, cast on ten stitches, and knitted a strip that was just about long enough to go around my head. I seamed the short edges together and then I managed to single crochet around a long edge with this hot pink Red Heart with Love. A lot of double crochets and gradual decreasing, plus a messy pompom, finished off the hat in two days.

I don’t have a pattern for it, I’m afraid. It was a design-on-the-go, see-if-it-works type of thing. (The pompom is held on with a bow on the inside of the hat, so it’s removable when the hat needs washing.)

I am feeling quite virtuous today, having gone to the pool two days in a row. Yesterday I swam 20 lengths, today 30. I would like to maintain a frequent swimming schedule but I am making no promises because I know myself!

I just realised it’s almost bedtime and I haven’t practised my piano tunes today. Oops! However I have spent a few hours on my Nutrition course and have learned some very depressing facts about the state of the US food industry. Ugh!

Have a good day and talk to you again soon.

Happy Hallowe’en?

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I’m sitting here in my favourite spot tonight; in my living room at my end of the couch (the other end belongs to Tai Chi Man but he’s out this evening). I don’t expect anyone to ring the doorbell because we have only ever given out candy once or twice in the 20 years we’ve lived here. We are the Scrooges of Hallowe’en. Keep the door shut, maybe even dim the lights and pretend to be out or deaf!

Being vegan, and raising vegan kids, meant that going out trick or treating never really appealed that much. The one time we did it, we had to pull out a lot of the candy and give it away. And I am not going to buy crap that I wouldn’t feed to my own children just to hand it out at the door.

When the boys were younger, we did carve pumpkins, but to be honest that has lost its appeal too. So much effort and mess for such a short-lived result, not to mention that my conscience is pricked when I think of our culture using food purely as decoration when they are so many people who are lacking enough to eat.

Well, that’s enough of my whining, now for some crochet. I have links! The coat that I mentioned in my last post is a free pattern based on one worn by some celeb or other who I probably have never heard of (did I say I don’t watch TV and that the celeb magazines at the store leave me cold)? The original cost over $1,000. Well, mine is going to be less than $50.

Coatigan in Grannies is the name, and here is the Ravelry link, and here is the Red Heart link. I’m not sure how realistic the gauge is, when you consider that I am using Stylecraft Special Aran, which is thinner than Super Saver, and a 5mm hook rather than the suggested 6mm for the size of square I need. I am aiming for the middle size and my squares should be 6.5″ but there are closer to 6.75″. And I usually go UP a hook size to meet gauge.

Here are the first nine squares:

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The pattern uses a smaller, more coordinated, range of colours but I have a lot of this yarn to use up. I rejected lemon yellow, white, cream and fondant pink as I felt they would stand out too much. The lightest colours in these squares are parchment, camel, silver grey, and I am using them in the second round of each square. The centres can be brighter, but from the third round out I’m trying to keep things fairly sober. The last two rounds of each are black.

I’m not going to stress too much about how they look at this point. I am just going to crochet a bunch of them (I need 62 for the coat) and lay them out and if one just looks like a glaring mistake I’ll make a different one to replace it.

And now to pick up my hook. I found Leonardo di Caprio’s film, Before the Flood, available for free on You Tube today, so assuming it is still available I am going to watch it while I crochet.

Happy crocheting! Boo!!

 

 

 

Home-made soymilk

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I’ve recently been thinking about cutting back on the expense of commercial soymilk and becoming less reliant on the supermarket. Making one’s own ‘milk’ is so easy and relatively inexpensive too. In fact there was a great link on Facebook this week about making your own ‘milk’ from all sorts of nuts and seeds, even buckwheat, of which we have an abundant supply, as Tai Chi Man eats it regularly for breakfast. image

I tend not to go overboard on vegan stuff here on the blog, so suffice it to say that plant milks are beneficial for

(a) people: nutritious  and delicious without the suffering, antibiotics and hormones inherent in commercially produced dairy milk

(b) animals: they don’t need to die for us to eat well

(c) the environment: cutting down on intensive cattle raising, with its huge use of water, ginormous piles of cow poop and clouds of methane, has to be a good thing.

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I used to have a soymilk maker, where you soaked the beans and then put them in a metal basket inside the jug with water, where the blades blitzed the heck out of them and created the ‘milk.’ When I bought my Vitamix, I gave away the other machine, and finally, after a few years of buying cartons of soymilk, I have started making my own again.

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The Vitamix book said to soak the beans overnight, steam them for five minutes, then use a cup and a half of beans to three cups of water. I actually pressure cooked mine for the five minutes, let the pressure come down naturally, and then froze the beans in yogurt pots so that I could just defrost a small amount at a time.

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Well, the first batch was really sludgy. Way too many beans.

So I cut it down to one cup. Still too thick. Then three quarters of a cup. Much better. I add a quarter teaspoon of Himalayan salt and a tablespoon of organic sugar, and it tastes great. The true test, to me, was that I can use it in my Yorkshire tea and it is actually fine. I don’t strain it, and I give it a shake before pouring any out, but it can still get a bit thick at the bottom of the jar, so my latest batch is two thirds of a cup of beans to three cups of boiling water, blitzed at high speed for up to a minute with the salt and sugar, and the resultant quantity fits perfectly into a large mason jar.

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It’s great that there is way less stuff going into the recycling bin too.