Monday, January 30, 2006

This post was brought to you by the number 4

First though, there are all these knitters who talk about their pets. There's the Knitting Kitty blogring, and the Purling Puppy blogring and even a Knitters with Pugs blogring. I have never really been a pet person, but I can't imagine a home without plants. In my 2-window apartment I have 32 plants. Not only are they air purifiers that need no electricity or filter changes, but they brighten up a living space.
So with the same level of enthusiam that the mother of a sweater-sporting wiener dog might have, I invite you to take a look at this:
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Christmas may be over, but don't tell this cactus! Ain't she a beaut? I count 11 flowers and buds in that picture alone!

Okay and now for one of my favourite kinds of blog posts, sent to me by Jill. Actually I asked that she stick me with it, because I love memes, but I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I'll say it again - I love memes! And if you ever need to tag anyone with a meme I'm your grrl.

Four Jobs You've Had In Your Life
1. My stint of serving at the somewhat fancy vegan restaurant Fressen lasted all of one weekend. Hosting, serving, busing and bartending at (very busy) brunch for 18 tables with only one other server who'd only been there himself for 2 weeks was far from my cup of tea. Not to mention I fell down all the freshly-mopped stairs (that had no handrail) at the end of my first night of training and the owner never even asked me if I was okay.
2. The summer I was 17 I was the Arts and Crafts activity head at my all-girls camp north of Kingston. I loved the job of having to make crafts everyday.
3. At the age of 20 I was a mother's helper to the newborn twins of the director of an all-boys camp just this side of Minden ON. Needless to say that with only six females in camp and about 70 male staff I got into a little bit of trouble.
4. Almost three years ago I held two co-op jobs at one time - shelving health food at Karma Co-op and selling sex toys at Come As You Are. The later job had me helping out at female ejaculation workshops and being encouraged as staff to take home the wide selection of porn we carried in the store.

Four Movies You Could Watch Over and Over
1. Pretty in Pink - This has been one of my favourtie movies since I was like six or seven. It was the first time I think I ever saw a french kissing scene. As I got older, whenever a friend who was a boy would get a crush on me, my mum would try and inspire compassion by saying "Remember Duckie?".
2. When Harry met Sally - Can satisfy a good New York craving and it's all of those actors at their best. Pecan pie anyone? How 'bout singing "Surrey with a Fringe on Top" in front of Ira?
3. The Love Letter - Haven't heard of it? I'm not surprised. It's a romantic comedy with Ellen Degeneres, Tom Seleck and the boy from that Tom Hanks movie, Big, but all grown up.
4. Monsoon Wedding - Every time I watch this I say to myself: I've got to take a trip to India one of these days. Not to mention I love marigolds.

Four TV Shows You Love to Watch
I don't have a TV really (it only plays DVDs), but I'm a huge fan of renting seasons of TV shows on DVD, like:
1. Gilmore Girls
2. Six Feet Under
3. Queer as Folk and the unfortunately more cheesy The L Word
4. The Sopranos
IfI i did have a TV I would make a point of watching Grey's Anatomy and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy everytime they were on. It's very healthy for me not to have a TV.

Four Favourite Books
1. The Chelsea Whistle by Michelle Tea - Paul got me this book for my 23rd birthday. When I read it the last chapter struck me so profoundly that it kept me in bed for a week. No joke (admittedly I was going through a rough patch).
2. Flaming Iguanas by Erika Lopez - This book is laugh-out-loud hillarious. Sadly the two subsequent books in the trilogy couldn't come close.
3. Cunt by Inga Muscio - Three for three! Michelle, Erika, Inga - all dykes who live in SanFrancisco. Weird, hey? Cunt is one of those must reads for anyone with a cunt or anyone who intereacts at all with anyone with a cunt. Inga's way of writing has certainly inspired mine.
4. Do I go for A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews (pronounced Taves - funny, hey?) - the best piece of fiction I've read in the past year or more - for my last choice, or The Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood, that I read absolutely all the time?

Four Albums You Can't Hear Too Often
Okay, I added this question in myself - hey, there was nothing about music in here.
1. Sufjan Stevens - Greetings from Michingan (Yes, still. It was a year ago that I posted about this album and I still put it on almost ever Sundae.)
2. Apostle of Hustle - Folkloric Feel
3. The Organ - Grab that Gun
4. Bell Orchestre - Recording a Tape the Colour of The Light (This one I have to be careful of because it has this beautiful-but-cold-Montreal-lonely-wintery kind of feel that I can get into enough that things can start to feel bleak or a little too emotional.)

Four Places You Have Lived
1. I've spent the majority of my life here in Toronto, ON.
2. I've lived in both Hamilton, ON and Peterborough, ON for university. I prefered Peterborough, but I didn't manage to get a degree in either place.
3. Summers for camp have been spent in Tichborne ON, Sooke BC, Port Moody BC, and Minden ON.
4. Work exchanges on organic farms in St Marcel-de-Richelieu QC, Waterville NS, Lytton BC, and Saltspring Island BC.

Four Places You Have Been On Vacation
1. Most recently I was in Italy, though I can't really say it felt like a vacation. More like unpaid (though expenses covered) work for three weeks.
2. I went with my dad and step-mum to Scotland and England when I was eight, but I spent the whole time being homesick. (I was a sucky kid like that.)
3. There was a period of time when I was in New York almost every year.
4. I went down to Florida with my mum to visit family in second grade and again in sixth or seventh grade. I wasn't allowed to go to any of those Disney places. Busch Gardens was as touristy as it got.

Four Websites You Visit Daily
You mean other than Domestic Affair comments, G-mail and Blogger?
1. I check the weather forcast most days on
2. In terms of weblogs, I can't honestly say that I'm a regular reader. I go through spurts with different ones.
It's not that I'm not on the internet often enough, I just bounce around a lot. You just have to see the number of links in the sidebar to know that.

Four Of Your Favorite Foods
1. Creemy things like yogurt and ice cream
2. Fruit
3. Fresh bread, toast, baked goods (can you tell I'm likely hypoglycemic?)
4. I could say chocolate, but more often these days I try to replace those cravings with sweet potatoes and millet.

Four Places You Would Rather be Right Now
1. Montreal (I can't think of a time I would ever not rather be in Montreal, hence the Fall moving plan.)
2. New York City (My plans to visit over March Break have just fallen through. Booo.)
3. France (Ever heard of Plum Village? - I really wish I could afford to visit) or someplace in India (This one'd require more research.).
4. Across the room (instead of in this computer chair), curled up knitting or with a book in the big armchair that faces the big window that looks out on to a busy downtown Toronto street and the edge of Trinity-Bellwoods Park. Mmmmm. I love my apartment.

Four People You'll Tag
I'm gonna try my luck with Allison, Megan, Robyn and Jodi.
Thursday, January 26, 2006

Get well soon

Well it's happened - I've just acquired my first cold of the season. You might not even know it to see me, but it's there. It comes from a number of days in a row with a certain almost-three-year old and her one-year-old sister who've pretty much had colds since late September. We ate off the same plate once or twice - I knew I shouldn'ta done that.

Here's a list of some of the natural remedies I've collected over the years. I invite you to try them if you're a confident self-healer, or consult with a holistic practitioner if need be.

First off - drink, drink, drink.
Being well hydrated is always important, but drinking lots will help flush the sickness out of your system. Filtered water is vital, just don't drink it cold. Try warm water with lemon and honey (yes it's a sugar, but it's also an antibacterial agent). In terms of teas, warming herbs like ginger root can do wonders - bring a small-medium pot of water to boil, turn off heat and throw in as much fresh (or frozen) grated/chopped ginger as you can stand (avoid if you're in the first trimester of pregnancy). Cover and allow to steep for 20 minutes or more. I like echinacea tea with cinnamon sticks. Thyme leaf tea is anti-microbial (try it with fresh lemon juice and honey). Also a tablespoon or two of miso in a mug of just-boiled water (don't boil the miso or you'll lose the healing properties) with chopped/grated raw garlic and a pinch of cayenne (again warming) or miso soup. (Notice I'm not mentioning orange juice? It's too sugary! Especially undiluted.)

Got a sore, scratchy throat? Try gargling with a little apple cider vinegar or some salt water (1/2 tsp. sea salt to 1 cup just-boiled water - allow to cool to a tolerable temperature). Also try this recipe (adapted from Aviva Romm's book Naturally Healthy Babies and Children):

Kudzu Apple Juice

Kudzu, which can be found in health food stores and asian markets, is used in Chinese Medicine to treat colds (amongst other things). I find that it has a mucliagenous quality like slippery elm or marshmallow root, that is really soothing for my throat.

1 litre unclarified apple juice (you can also use pear juice)
4 tsp. kudzu root powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Pour half the juice into a saucepan and heat over medium. Dissolve the kudzu root in the rest of the juice. Stir this into the saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring all the while. Reduce temperature to low and heat 2 minutes more. Cool to a drinkable temperature (it thickens as it cools). You can drink up to one litre per day.

Second - if you're not hungry, don't eat a whole lot. Veg and a bit of fruit is good, but nothing heavy like baked goods or fats. Let your body put less energy into digestion and more energy into getting you well. Foods you eat should be warming - like soup. Avoid/eliminate congesting foods and non-foods - no dairy (it's really mucous-forming), sugar, refined foods, coffee, alcohol... and also moldy foods, like peanuts, that are immuno-comprimising. I eat lots of greens - especially parsley at this time, not only for chlorophyll, but for vitamin C.

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Speaking of vitamin C - not all brands are made equally. Whole foods (as opposed to synthetic) sources are best - I like Pure Planet's Amla-C Plus with Spirulina. Ester-C is also a good choice. Vitamin C is water soluble so you don't need to be super concerned about taking too much, but I'd say limit yourself to 500 mg every two hours (remember, I'm telling you this as a 'friend', not a professional!). Herbal tinctures are another option - I like St. Francis Herb Farm's Deep Immune or Echinaseal (with cayenne - it's firey!). They say you can take 1 drop for every 2 pounds of body weight every two hours for severe colds, or 1 drop for every 5 pounds of body weight for milder colds. If you're into Oil of Oregano, take the drops under your tongue and wash it back with water (gawd, it's aweful stuff!) - don't put it in a glass of water because too much'll stick to the glass, and this stuff ain't cheap!

If you're prone to, or would like to avoid sinus infections - try a neti pot. It's an ancient Indian tool for nasal irrigation - sounds a lot worse than it actually is. Have any of you tried it? Do you remember it being mentioned on Six Feet Under in season 4?
my neti pot
I got mine from Snow Lion - you can often find them at yoga/ meditation supply stores, and I know you can find them all over the place on the internet. You can even watch a video demonstration here.

Take a warm soothing bath with a couple drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Better yet, boost your metabolism (which gets your lymph flowing) with hot/cold showers. Take 'em at a hot:cold ratio of 3:1, so 15 seconds hot:5 seconds cold, 30 seconds hot: 10 seconds cold, whatever. It doesn't have to be boiling then freezing either - start with warm:cool, then warmer:cooler, then hotter:colder... Do at least three repetitions and end on cold - you'll feel warm when you shut of the water and reach for your towel.

And finally - rest!
Get sleep, avoid stress (or address it quickly), don't watch junk TV or read/watch miserable news. It's the season of hibernation after all.
Genuinely nourish yourself.

Hope this helps!
Saturday, January 21, 2006

Crocheters are crazy

Okay, no, I'm kidding. They're not crazy - not to say that there are no crazy crocheters in the world, but having crochet skills would not inherantly give someone a MS. CRAZY sash and tiara. I don't know, I'm just a knitter - perhaps one could go crazy because of crocheting (I know there've been moments when I thought knitting was making me a little nutty), but now I'm just getting carried away here...

What I was trying to say is that Michael just sent me the link to this little video.
It's totally wacky. But I love it.
Friday, January 20, 2006

Emotional Rescue

'Bout time we got some desserts up here again....

Cardamom Tapioca Pudding

What a fun texture! This recipe is gluten-free as long as you check your non-dairy milk. I've heard tapioca starch can also be tolerated by those with candida issues. Sugar, however, cannot so try making it with stevia. The flavour of cardamom compliments the stevia nicely.

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2 cups organic unsweetened soymilk (I like Natura) or organic cow's milk*
1/4 cup tapioca pearls
4 dropperfuls of SweetLeaf Stevia Clear liquid, Vanilla Creme flavour or 3 packets of SweetLeaf Stevia Plus (or more to taste)**
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract (optional)
a pinch or two sea salt

* If it's gonna be cow's milk, it's gotta be organic or you have no business using this recipe. I mean it! I want no part in supporting factory farming, nor do I want to be a catalyst for you consuming antibiotics and lordisa-only-knows what other shit you get from those conventional/non-organic force-milked cows. (I am not typically an animal rights ranter, but I feel strongly about this one.)

** If you're not into stevia, you could substitute 1/4 cup Sucanat, brown sugar, honey or maple syrup.

Soak tapioca pearls in milk for about an hour before cooking. Pour tapioca and milk in a smallish saucepan on the stove over medium-high heat. Stir pretty constantly to avoid clumping or sticking on the bottom of the pot. After about 5 minutes, whisk in the sweetener (stevia or whatever), cardamom, and salt. Continue to cook and stir until a noticeable thickening occurs. Pour into four little custard bowls, making sure there's an even distribution of tapioca pearls between each bowl. Allow to cool on the counter for 15 minutes before transferring to the fridge. It will take about an hour to set in the fridge. Eat cool, or allow to warm back up to room temperature before serving, perhaps topped with organic berries.

For me, this is comfort food.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Curry in from the cold

I know it's not Friday, but I'm sure I'll have something else to say about food by then.

I was inspired to create this recipe when I got home from my day of facing this snowy-wet-dreariness we're being subjected to here in Toronto right now. I will admit, I know far less about Indian cooking than I'd like to - that's why my friend Dan wrote most of the Indian recipes in my cookzines. So, though I wouldn't call this an Indian curry, it's certainly Indian-inspired. It's rich and warming what with the coconut milk and all those spices. The sweet potatoes, red pepper and, again, the coconut make this stew pleasantly sweet.

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Coconut Cauliflower Chickpea Curry

2 medium-large onions, chopped
1-2 tbsp. unrefined/non-hydrogenated coconut oil or olive oil
2 large carrots*, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. grated ginger root
1 - 2 tbsp. curry powder (try this one, or a blend that you really like - it should include corriander, turmeric, cumin and cinnamon)
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 tbsp. sea salt (I know it sounds like a lot, but you're making quite a bit of stew here)
2 fist-sized sweet potatoes* (white potatoes could be okay too), diced
3 cups small-chopped cauliflower
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 can good quality coconut milk (I like Thai Kitchen Organic - but not the 'lite' kind)
1 cup filtered water (or more to desired consistency)
1/4 cup shredded unsweetned coconut
a handful of chopped cilantro (optional garnish)

* If your produce is organic, just scrub it real well before chopping, as there's lotsa nutrients in the skin and just under the skin. If it's conventional, you're better off peeling.

In a large soup pot, saute onions over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add carrots, garlic, ginger, curry powder, salt and cayenne. Saute for five minutes more before adding the sweet potatoes, califlower, red pepper, chickpeas, coconut milk and shredded coconut. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes are soft. Remove from heat.
Serve hot, perhaps over cooked brown basmati rice and spinach, garnished with cilantro if desired.
Makes about 6 to 8 servings, depending on how hungry you are.

(If you know a good amount about Indian culinary arts and I've broken some cardinal rule, please let me know. I know I'm always tempted to give someone a piece of my mind when they put carrots in a lasagna or spaghetti sauce.)
Tuesday, January 17, 2006


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This is the wack of zine orders that I mailed off yesterday.
Whew, did it ever feel like a relief - I'd finally come across a few orders from last spring that'd gotten lost in the shuffle of moving... and moving. Of course I chose to do it on the day that the Canada Post raised their prices, but I guess that's just the way it goes.

So let's talk about zines, because we so rarely do.
Zines have been a long time interest of mine. For even longer, and an even greater interest than - gasp! - knitting. I always have a handful of zines on the go, and it's possible that if I wasn't concerned about having an income I'd spend all my time making zines.

What I love about zines is that there a creative and relatively low-budget way to get information out into the world. You want women to know how evil conventional menstrual products are, or you want to encourage people to eat locally, or you just want a wider audience for your daily musings... you put out a zine. Y'just DO IT YERSELF. DIY. Simple. Or complicated, depending on how you want to go about it.

The thing of it is though, that I'm a bit stalled right now. Take Back the Knit #3 and Ripe #5 are quite near completion, but I can't afford to print a new knitzine or cookzine until I sell of some of my current stock. With that being said, I thought I'd tell you about my creations. (It's my blog, I'm allowed to plug my zines, right?)

ripe #4
The fourth issue of my cookzine, Ripe, is my most recent zine. Like all the other issues of Ripe, it's 1/4 letter size (meaning it's a quarter of the size of an 8.5" x 11" page) - so it's small enough to fit in yer back pocket. Some of the 40 recipes included are Cinnamon Swirl Biscuits, Zucchini Date Muffins, Polenta, a coupl'a gravies, reduced Balsamic Vinaigrette, Three Lentil Soup, Maple Roasted Roots, Chipotle Blackeyed Peas with Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Fettucini No-fredo, Lentil Loaf, Lime Coconut Cake, Carob Chai Cake with Cardamom Icing, Rice Pudding, Peanut Butter Cookies, and something like Tiramisu. A number of the recipes have been posted on the blog, but with your own copy you won't have to bring your computer into the kitchen. There's also product reviews and a discussion about the importance of organic food.

vegan freegan
Vegan Freegan is the first cookzine I ever made (that was back in 2002). It covers a lot of vegan basics with resources and substitution information. The 70 recipes within include Cozy Oatmeal, Granola, Tempeh 'Sausage' Patties, Banana Pancakes, Banana Bread, Applesauce Muffins, Marmalade Flax Muffins, Molasses Cornmeal Muffins, "Cream of" soups (Broccoli, Tomato, Corn, and Zucchini & Leek), salad dressings, Hummus, Pesto, Peanut Sauce, Grilled "Cheese", Dal, Tofu Jerky, Sesame Baked Tofu with Snow Peas and Almonds, Squash au Gratin, Shepherd's Pie with Mushroom Gravy, Chocolate Cake, Fruity Vanilla Cake, Chocolate Pudding Cake, Coffee Cake, Chocolate Nut Butter Pie, Apple Crumble, Chocolate Pudding, spice pudding, Pumpkin Custard, Soymilk 'Whipped Creem', Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, Banana Coconut Cookies, Date Squares, and banana-date-almond smoothie. It's 68 pages.

ripe #1
Ripe #1 came next. It's the smallest of my cookzines with 20 recipes including Almond Milk, Bran Muffins, Wholesome Grain Bread, Heavenly Herb Bread, crispy-fried Tofu, Guacamole, Moroccan Garbanzo Bean Soup, and Cowgrrrl Cookies (the best vegan chocolate chip cookies I've ever had!). There's also a mango cutting tutorial, a fun article on quinoa, product reviews, and a list of my top ten favourite cookbooks.

ripe #3
Ripe #3 - This 80-page zine, with me as the cover grrl harvesting snowpeas, includes Morning Muslei, Corn Cakes, Fried Green Tomatoes, Applesauce, Mango Salad, Tabouleh, Ginger Sesame Pasta Salad, Bruschetta, Cannelini Kale Soup, Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut Milk, Portabella Burgers, Pizza, Indian spice mixes, Mangoes with Coconut Milk Sticky Rice, Rhubarb Crumble, Cherry Pie, Zen Brownies, Dr. Razzle Tazzle's Chocolate Raspberry Explosion, and Coffee Syrup. It also gives a rundown on essential kitchen equipment, product reviews, and tutorials on sprouting avocado plants and trapping fruit flies!

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Seed was born out of a workshop I did on the basics of herbal healing. There's a bunch of information on making your own herbal products - oils, salves, lip balms, creams, face toners, scrubs and masks. There's also a section on gyn-ecology - fertilitiy awareness, emmenogogues, urinary tract infections, and yeast infections. And finally a quick refernce guide to herbs that'll treat particular conditions. It's 46 pages.

And finally there are the knitzines, which perhaps brought you here to the blog in the first place.

take back the knit #2

Both issues of Take Back the Knit are available right now (the first issue, from last winter, was out of print for a good while). Like Ripe #4, TBtK #2 has a colour cardstock cover and a 'cleaner' look that my previous zines (meaning it spent a bunch of time in Adobe Publisher and was not assembled on my kitchen counter). Both issues have a dozen patterns, #1's are wintery (toques, scarves, ponchos, armwarmers), #2's are summery (bags, bike seat cover, flipflop socks, restraints). I'm sure you know and love a number of the fine folks who wrote for the zines - among them are the bloggers from Yarn Harlot, Cosmicpluto Knits!, Jodi's Weblog, Mason-Dixon Knitting, Knit Wit, Is it a Sweater Yet?, Tricky Tricot, and mk carroll.

take back the knit #1

This feels a little like an infomercial, but I'd be ever so grateful if you'd hop on over to the ordering page. You can order in your own currency whether you live in Canada, the US, the UK or Europe. Mention it at your SnB and place a group order (it could save on postage, and you'd be what my fellow zinestress Ayun Halliday calls a guerilla marketeer!). Order copies to be mailed directly to your friends and family!

If you have some of these zines already, I'd love to hear what you think and if you use them.
Sunday, January 15, 2006

I've got worms!

My conversation repetoire has been so health-focused these days that when I called my mum yesterday and said excitedly "I've got worms!" she thought I meant pinworms or something.

I was talking about red wigglers.

Come on, you may be thinking. Worms? What does this have to do with domesticity? Personally, I don't think it takes any stretch of the imagination to see that compost is a domestic affair.

I live in a city with a relatively newly issued green bin programme. I have also been a devoted composter my whole life (I got the Environmental Award at my sixth grade graduation, I'll have you know), so when I moved into a building that takes care of its waste privately and therefore isn't in on the green bin action, I started freezing my compost (so it wouldn't smell) and sending it home with my mum whenever she'd come to visit. I maybe have to take out my garbage-garbage like once every three weeks - that's less environmental impact than most people on our continent can boast. Still, the system is less than ideal.

I was watching that environmental documentary Go Further with Woody Harrelson again recently and was reminded of how effectively worms consume food/plant watse and turn it into worm castings (that make for great plant fertilizer).
I have lots of plants, and they could do with some nice, rich fertilizer. So I visited Grassroots.
When I worked there five years ago, the store carried Vermicomposting kits (boxes, bedding, worms), but they've stopped carrying them because people would have to preorder their worms and then they wouldn't collect the li'l wigglers when they came in and they would die (the worms, not the people). None the less, they were a helpful resource as they had something I could use as worm bedding
package of bedding
and gave me a number for a local woman who was willing to part with some of her worms in exchange for a donation to the Toronto Wildlife Centre. (The woman, Anne, was very friendly on the phone. I picked them up from her place of work and brought them home in a little backpack stuffed with toques and scarves for insulation so they wouldn't get cold.)

I made a trip to Canadian Tire to get myself a smallish Rubbermaid box (it's just me in this apartment, and an appropriately-sized box is important)... with two lids. And some screen - which annoyingly I had to buy a whole roll of, even though I only needed like a square foot's worth.

Michael drilled some 1/4" holes in the box so those worms can breathe for lord's sake - six in the bottom, and six around the edge at the top.
box with holes

Then we had to cover the holes up with the screen. (My worst nightmare would be for those worms to escape and be wriggling loose in my apartment.)
cutting the screen

duct tape around screen

screened holes

I soaked the bedding in a bucket of water. Once it'd expanded like crazy, I squeezed it out real good and tossed it in the vermibox. I slid the second lid underneath to catch whatever might come out of the drainage holes.

I sliced up some paper bags from my recycling
paper bags
(I didn't think ahead - slicing on the carpet required bringing out the vacuum later - boo) and mixed them in too.
mixed bedding

Then I burried some chopped food scraps.
burrying food
(They say food has to be burried to avoid attracting fruit flies.)

Finally the good clean fun had to end. I had to release the worms.
I approached the bucket. (For those of you that are squeemish, I'm giving you forwarning on the graphic photos that'll be coming up shortly.)
worm bucket

Opened it up. A little smelly, but not too bad.
open bucket

But then I poured 'em in.
worm pour

And here is where I made my first mistake, because although the directions I got said pour the worms on top and they'd quickly wiggle down because they don't like light, my worms came with a bit of food to sustain them on their travels, and now that food was on top.
worms in bin
I'm considering adding more bedding on top, but I don't want the vermibox to be too full.

Both my mum and Michael asked me if I was going to name them. Maybe knit them little sweaters, too?
"There are so many!" I responded. And I'm not sure I want to get that close to them that I recognize them individually. If that's even possible. Maybe it'll be like Finding Nemo, where the clownfish plan to name half their babies Marlin Jr and half of them Coral Jr and one of them Nemo.

Maybe vermicomposting is something you want to learn more about.
Here are the best resources I could find:
* Worms eat my garbage by Mary Appelhof
* New Mexico State University Vermicomposting Guide
* Urban Agriculture Notes
* Compost Guide site
* University of Nebraska Vermicomposting site
* Peace Corps site
* Cathy's Crawly Composters (an Ontarian commercial site if you wanna buy a kit)

This could be a great project if you have kids, or if you work with kids.
There are even teaching resources available.

Now if you've vermicomposted yourself and have advice, bring it on!
Friday, January 13, 2006

Go for the grains

Would you mind if we talked about grains this week?

We're all familiar with wheat. It's the world's most popular carbohydrate crop - it's grown in almost every country (in the US it's grown in almost every state even). And though it is said to be helpful for a whole range of stress and mental health systems, as well as nurturing the heart and being good for the musculature, it's one of the most common food allergens. My understanding is that we use it so much, we've become intolerant to it.
Let's tell it like it is though. White flour, your unbleached all-purpose flour, is a non-food. It may make some of the best textured baked goods, but refined of its bran and germ, it's doing nothing to really nourish your body (even though it's enriched). But you already knew that, right?

I challenge you to cut out wheat (this includes bulgur and couscous) from your diet for two weeks and see how you feel. Your baked goods and pastas should all come from other grain sources during the two weeks. Be sure to check product labels, like on your bottle of soy sauce even. After that time, add it back in and see if you feel a difference. You may find during the time you elimated it, you were relieved of certain health problems that returned when the wheat was reintroduced. (I was first told by my naturopath to cut it out to moderate my anxiety levels, later I discovered I was allegic to it.) Keep me posted.

There are other glutenous grains that are often tolerated by those who don't do wheat, just as long as you don't have celiac disease. Try:
* spelt - It's an ancient relative of wheat, but contains more protein and is great wheat flour substitute. I bake with it all the time, as you may have noticed. Remember this recipe?
* kamut - Another relative of wheat. Often found as cereal puffs, or in breads and pastas. Try this whole grain recipe.
* oats - Steel cut or even "old fashioned" rolled oats are far better than quick oats. They're great for your nervous system. Try this tasty treat or this more recent recipe.
* barley - Pearl barley's alright, but pot or Scotch barley is far more nutritious. It's warming, and contains more protein than rice. Try this recipe.

buckwheat & millet

But the majority of your carbohydrate consumption should be coming from non-glutenous grains as they're less congesting.
We all know rice, and as I'm sure you suspected brown, wild, and red rices are all healthier choices than the white stuff. (We certainly can't forget this recipe.)
But what about these?:
* quinoa (say KEEN-wah) has the highest protein and calcium content of any grain - more than cow's milk in fact! Cooked, it's also the prettiest grain. Just remember to rinse it well before cooking - it has a bitter coating on it, but it's nuthin' a little slosh in cold water won't take care of.
* millet, I've heard, has the highest iron content of any grain, which makes it a great choice when your bleeding, or pre- or post-surgery. It's also a good source of protein. This alkaline grain soothes the stomach, is easy to digest, and is said to help prevent miscarriage.
* buckwheat (toasted it's called 'kasha') is warming, wards against radiation, and reduces blood pressure. Often found in cereals. Avoid if you suffer from skin allergies or cancer.
* amaranth - these tiny grains are easy to digest, and are also the first runner up in the protein and calcium competition. Also contains iron, and has twice as much fibre as wheat. Impossible to rinse in a strainer as the grains are just too small, so buy organic.

Back in October, my friend Noah came to dinner and the two of us were bemoaning the amount of action amaranth gets in our kitchens - it's so nutritious, and yet so difficult to use. Cook it on it's own and it's often gluey and unexciting. Throw a couple tablespoons into a pot with whatever other grain you're making and run the risk of 'gluing' that up too.
Since then, he has kindly sent me this:

Puffed Amaranth

Take your amaranth and put it in a skillet, on medium heat. Now comes the tricky need to stir it, but you also need to cover it, because when amaranth gets a-poppin' it likes to leap right out of the pan. SO - cover it, and about every two minutes, whip the cover off and stir like crazy and slam the lid back on.
A boring alternative to this is to put oven mits on and lift the whole shebang off the heat and shake it, like you're making popcorn.
When it's all popped, usually around the time it starts burning, dump it out of the skillet. You can then do various things with it:
* Mix it with honey or molasses to make a sticky treat.
* Leave it to cool and mix it into your breakfast cereal, granola or oatmeal.
* You could also add it to cookies or muffins or other baking things, casseroles, soups, salads, nachos...anything really!

Amaranth is good for you
Amaranth is fine
I like amaranth
I just don't know what to do with it...

For more grain cooking information and recipes, get a hold of the award-winning book The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood.

You'll also find that all the recipes in the sidebar on the blog here are wheat-free.
Monday, January 09, 2006

A bit of a dilema

I hope I didn't just freak you right out (or possibly bore you to death) with all that fasting talk. Was it the content, or the length of the post that left you all speachless? I guess you go to school for nutrition and end up assuming that everyone wants to talk about bowel cleansing agents.

So back to the topic that unites us all, I have a bit of a dilema to contend with. It's another case of my hands not being able to knit as fast as my eyes can wander. This particular case involves a particular scarf pattern that I'm using for the second time (though first time this season - please forgive the flash photos, it's dark out)
Image hosted by
in the wool that can also be seen in the photograph below on the left, but all of a sudden, almost a whole skein in, I've decided I'd rather be knitting it in the colourway as shown in the skeins on the left:
Image hosted by
(The good news is, they both have orange in 'em, which is the colour of my ribby toque that I love.)

Do I suck it up and stick with what I've already started?
Finish what I've started and try and find someone to gift it to, and then start on the scarf I now really want for myself?
Or transfer the already-started-scarf onto other needles, knit the new scarf, and then revisit the first scarf as a gift item once I've got what I want?
Friday, January 06, 2006

Food? What food?

I know today's the day to write about food, but I've hardly had any this week what with the four-day fast and all. Let's see....

A couple of you asked about my fast so I'll give you a bit of a run down - basic points to spark your interest so that you might do further research on the topic. Now, please take this information as stuff coming to you from a layperson, a friend. I may be studying holistic nutrition, but I have no certifications yet - I encourage you to personally be in touch with a naturopath or some other holistic practitioner if you really want to get in on this kind of stuff and heal yourself. So with that being said...

The reason you might want to do some sort of fast or cleanse is to give your body a bit of a break from all that effort you get it to put into digestion (40% of your body's energy goes into digestion - that's a lot!) and allow for some of that energy to be put into expelling toxins and healing instead. The toxins we carry around from day to day can lead to allergies, mental health issues, disease, and cancer - so it can be a good idea to lighten the toxic load. There are milder ways to do this than fasting - like increasing your water intake, drinking the juice of half a lemon in warm water first thing each morning, upping your consumption of fresh vegetables and fruit, eating more raw foods, eliminating or reducing stimulants (sugar, caffeine, alcohol, drugs), exercise...
And there are lots of different kinds of fasts and cleanses to chose from - water fasts, fasts that involve drinking salt water or water with lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne...

You've got to have a pretty whole-foods diet before you begin - in (at least) the week before you start you want to be:
* drinking 8-10 glasses of filtered or spring water everyday
* eliminating "non-foods" such as alcohol, sugar, coffee, chocolate, white flour...
* eating a diet of primarily clean (ie organic) food, including lots of veggies, fruit and non-glutenous grains (like rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat) and a very minimal amount of animal products (if any).

How you go in and out of a fast is just as important as what you do on the fast, so take it just as seriously or you may get sick. I've seen it happen - it's a drag.

With all this being said, here's what I consumed on my liquid fast (the recipes are adaptations from The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Women's Health by Sat Dharam Kaur ND, et al.):

"Just like Liquid Apple Pie" Fibre Drink

1 1/4 cups filtered or spring water (chlorine-free)
1/3 cup organic apple juice (contains apple pectin)
1 tbsp. freshly ground flaxseeds (fibre source, bowel lubricant)
1 tbsp. liquid bentonite clay (attracts heavy metals, absorbs toxins)
2 tsp. psyllium seed husks (fibre bulking agent)
1 tsp. chicory root extract powder (contains inulin, a prebiotic)
1 tsp. wheat bran, if tolerated (fibre that removes methymercury)
1/2 tsp. slippery elm powder (soothes intestinal lining, anti-cancer)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (discourages unhealthy bowel flora, normalizes blood sugar and insulin)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. probiotic formula containing Lactobacilli acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum (measurement depends on the quality of product - I like Genestra HMF Super Powder)

Shake this in a 500 mL glass jar and drink immediately, chewing each mouthful a few times before swallowing. Follow by refilling the jar with water and drinking that down, too. Drink this 4 times daily (say at 7am, 11am, 3pm and 8pm) for the duration of the fast.

Metal Clearing Alkaline Broth Soup

2 large sweet potatoes (high in beta carotene, alkaline)
2 large onions (liver support, antibacterial)
4 medium carrots (high in beta carotene and potassium, alkaline)
3 celery stalks (alkaline, high in sodium)
1 bunch parsley (kidney cleanser)
2 cups organic spinach (rich in minerals)
2 cups cilantro (pulls out heavy metals)
4 large cloves garlic (liver support, antibacterial)
4 liters/quarts filtered water (plus 4 more later)
2 tbsp. turmeric (liver support, anti-inflammatory)
1 tbsp. dulse powder (rich in minerals, alkaline, restores thyroid)
1 tsp. cayenne (increases circulation)
brown rice miso (or freshly ground flaxseeds if intolerant)

Chop vegetables (I ran them all through my food processor one after another with either the slicer blade or the multi-purpose blade where appropriate). Fill a large soup pot with water and add veggies. Mix in turmeric, dulse and cayenne. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Pour through a strainer into another pot. Compost the veg and keep the broth, or freeze the veg and add them to another soup at a later date.
Three times a day (say 8am, noon, and 5pm), in a large mug or bowl, measure out 1/4 cup of cooled broth and mix with 2 tsp. of miso (if you do not tolerate miso, or have a problem with candadiasis, substitute fresh ground flaxseeds for miso). Add an additional 1 - 1 1/4 cups broth and add an equal amount of just-boiled water (1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups). Drink up!
The soup should keep refrigerated for 4 days. Freeze any extra in half-full glass jars.
After your liquid fast, continue to consume the soup a few times a week, with the veg included, for another month to help with metal detoxification.

... And also fresh pressed vegetable juices (including carrots, celery, kale, beets, apple, gingerroot, and garlic if you can stand it) with 1 tsp. of spirulina. 3 times daily (at say, 10am, 4pm and 6pm).

Do not take supplements during this time (only stay on prescribed meds you need).
You can't expect to go about the rest of your life like normal during this time, or for the first couple days at least. I hibernated (unplugged everything and bundled up alone in my apartment) which felt ideal for me. Don't exercise, but do gentle yoga. Meditate and read books on natural health if you like. Don't watch the food network or read cookbooks. You can expect symptoms of detoxification during a fast like bad breath or body odour, sleepiness/brain fog or restlessness and insomnia, darker urine, heachaches, higher emotions, skin breakouts...

I was willing to stick with the fast for a week, but after three days I started fantasizing about millet so I decided I was nearing the end. Do something that feels right to you. A week would be great, but even two days could be helpful.

Typically you want to take half the time of your fast to come out of it again. So if you were fasting for a week, you'd take 3-4 days to get back to your normal diet. In my case, I fasted for four so I took two days to come out. You want to reintroduce foods in this order, and you want to eat slowly and chew really well:

My reintroduction looked like this: Day 1: an apple, then some celery, some steamed swiss chard with grated garlic and dulse powder, a coupla rice cakes. Day 2: cooked millet and amaranth with cinnamon and unsweetened soymilk, carrots and rice cakes with hummus, soy yogurt with stevia, sesame kale soba with arame. (So the ideal order of reintroduction would be fruit, veg, non-glutenous grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, glutenous grains, then animal products if any). And I'm still drinking lots of water and herb teas and the fibre drink twice daily.

Related health practices worth looking up:
* body brushing
* hot/cold showers
* togue scraping
* sauna therapy
* clay baths
* bowel cleansing enemas

Note! If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have an seroius health condition, this is not the time to be fasting and mobilizing toxins. Go and consult with a proactive health care provider.

Books I like:
The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Women's Health by Sat Dharam Kaur ND, et al.
Staying Healthy with the Seasons, Staying Healthy with Nutrition and The New Detox Diet by Elson M. Haas MD

Gawd, one a' these days I'm gonna get booted off all these knitting blog rings...
Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A year ago today

Checked my records - seems that I started Domestic Affair exactly one year ago today.
Don't they call that a blogiversary?
Dozens of people kindly commented when I hit 100 posts, so I won't push you further to say nice things, but I thought it'd be good to make note of it.

'Bout time I got a real web address though - something snappier - don't you think? I ought to ask Kelly about that.

You'll have to excuse me for waiting this long to send you all good wishes for the new year - I hope you all were relatively kind to your livers during your celebrations, or at least drank plenty of lemon water the next morning.
I just came out of a three day hibernation yesterday (yup, 72 hours where I locked the door, unplugged the computer, the phones, the stereo, the TV and mostly just read and yogaed and rested and bathed - it was great). I've also been on a liquids fast since Saturday. I'm thinking four days is enough though - I'll start munching on some celery or spinach around midday.

Now wish me luck - we start Chemistry and Biochemistry in school today! Yikes!

"Domestic affair... do you think it's a funny title?" I asked a friend.
"Funny ha-ha?" she responded, "well, no not really."
"But 'domestic affair', it's like what's going on in the nation, but it's also me, being drawn to all these domestic tasks - knitting, cooking, caring for small children..." I tried to explain.
"I like that it has the word affair in it," she concluded.

jae's first book!

Get It Ripe cover Have you seen my award-winning whole foods cookbook Get It Ripe: a fresh take on vegan living (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008)? Keep your eyes peeled for it!
To join the Facebook group for the book, go here.


about the blog:

about the cookbooks:

While I love hearing from you, and read each and every one of your e-mails, please understand that I just cannot respond to all of them due to the rate at which they're coming in these days!

If you have a question, I might have already answered it here.

in the press

live in person!

come see me:
* Vida Vegan Con in Portland, OR, August 26-28, 2011.

...but better yet, check the calendar for details!



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