A sweet New Year

Of course, this is only a fraction of what our tree produces. But aren't they stunning? I love their wabi-sabiness, the scratches and dents and insults perpetrated by squirrels and worms alike. And the color.

Nature does it up right.

We enjoyed a lovely apple cake last night, recipe courtesy of Mama Elaine. I back off on the sugar a bit, 1.25 cups instead of two and split the flour between all-purpose and whole wheat. And use more apples, for obvious reasons.

L'shanah tovah, a happy and healthy and sweet New Year to all our friends and loved ones!

Yarn crawl

"Crawl" really does describe my participation in Yarn Along the Rockies: I crawled to class, bought yarn, made my students rip out their projects and came home. (My students, they love me.)

Was delighted, however, to see the parade of knitters in and out of the shop, smiles on their faces and yarn in their bags. Happy buzzing all around.

To all the hardworking LYSOs who participated in the crawl: You done good. You've created a real community.

Oh, and the yarn? More Sleep Season. Natch.

A change of seasons

One of my knitting students referred me to this wonderful blog, Advanced Style, which follows ladies of a certain vintage, who are still so in love with life, style and play, well, you'll see, they're an inspiration. The perfect distraction as the season changes from oppressive to Chanel No. 5.

The organic question

Y'all probably read about the Stanford study that compared the nutritional content of organic and conventional produce. The authors of the study conducted a massive review of the literature, identifying 237 for further scrutiny. These studies looked at many variables, including the nutrient content of the produce as well as their bacterial, fungal and pesticide load. None of the studies compared the longitudinal health of populations consuming largely organic or conventional crops.

Based on their meta-analasis of the literature, they found no significant difference in nutritional content; organic produce didn't necessarily contain more vitamins, though there was some indication that organic milk yielded more omega-3 fatty acids. Organic produce tended to have about 30 percent less pesticide residue but was not pesticide free. Two studies on children demonstrated that kids consuming organic diets had less pesticide in their urine than children on conventional diets. But the health benefits or detriments to the kids are unclear.

The researchers were careful to note the limits of their work, mentioning variations in farming practices, weather and soil influences and different testing methods among the studies. And they also were quick to say there are other reasons to buy organic apart from how much vitamin C might be in your tomatos.

Here at Casa de Nake-id we don't buy all organic goods. It makes me writhe to pay $4 for a cup of raspberries or $5 for two cucumbers. Plus Big Organic has a reputation for putting profits over poultry, so the idea of buying organic for the greater good only goes so far when it comes to how animals are treated, especially in large operations.

The food I trust the most comes from our garden. (Though after suffering a wasp bite washing chard, I'm not so sure.) I trust it not because it's healthier (Lord knows what's in our Northwest Denver soil), but because it's here. This time of year, I can often glean an entire meal from what's coming out of the ground and hiding in our cupboards. Apples, kale, arugula, zucchini, tomatoes, herbs.

Our garden is small and not particularly ambitious. When a real gardener shares the fruits of her labors with us--it's a delight. Like slipping on a handmade sweater, there's something about food grown by friends.

I started this post intending to get all huffy about the Stanford study--about how the issue is bigger than the phytonutrients in your carrot and how buying organic puts a big green thumb in the eye of Monsanto. But my point, really is this: The healthiest thing we can do for ourselves is cook. You can take back your palette and your health by learning to whip up a couple of great salads and soups, bringing leftovers for lunch instead of Lean Cuisine and eschewing meat at every meal.

Yes, buy organic when you can. Support farmers who grow organically even if they aren't certified. And learn to make a mean stir fry. If you learn to love cooking even a little bit, you'll be seasoning your food with the healthiest ingredients of all--your care, attention and love.

Woman attacks husband with knitting needle: Finished Object

The other day, I stumbled on the headline: Woman arrested in knitting needle attack on husband.

My first thought was, Addis or Knit Picks?

Then, what could have possessed her?

But when I showed Mr. Nake-id my latest FO, he tossed off this comment, "Looks like something a clown would wear."

I think I get it now.

Knit in Sleep Season sock yarn, pattern adapted accidentally from Mizzle by Patricia Martin.

Clinging to the summer with free-stone peach sangrira

Sunday was one of those magical mountain evenings where the air was so crisp and clean and dry, it sparkled.

We dined al fresco bundled in fleeces and sweatshirts, feasting on a meal largely culled from everyone's gardens and trees. Robyn created the libation pictured above, peach-and-basil sangria, from her own canned peaches and garden basil. It was the perfect start to this end-of-summer repast, tasting as it did of afternoon sun and mown fields. With a kick.

And, of course, there was the meal. And the flowers. And the company.

As we all return to laboring for a living, there's satisfaction in knowing that we celebrated the season so rightly and so well.

News and new obsessions

(Well, it is Friday. Hence the cat blogging image, which bears no resemblance to what follows.)

This is the last day of August and here at Chez Nake-id we're asking the hot weather to be gone. The crisp mornings are making us think of hearty soups and roasting things and the sweltering afternoons make us not want to make those hearty soups and roasting things. It really is enough already.

Ninety-degree days or no, September comes and with it a brand-new season of knitting, school clothes (whether you plan to matriculate or not) and nesting.

Some things to do, upcoming: The Salida Fiber Festival and Yarn Along the Rockies, the first-ever Front Range shop hop.

Something to knit: This splendid shawl.

Something to smell: Seven samples for $15. Includes shipping.

Something for your wish list. (In black and white or why not all colors, since we're wishing?)

Something great to do with chard.

Something to support.

Something to watch. Again. (For the writing, the art direction, the men!)

Something to wrap around your neck.

Something to make. (From Kathy in Westcliffe.)

Something to dig out of your drawer!

May your weekend be full of discoveries.

 

Photo courtesy of the divine Ms. Lisa.

What to do with all the kale?

Gardens, we're discovering, aren't linear, preditable things. One year the tomatoes are so prolific, you can't manage the marinara production. Another, broccoli abounds to the point you're giving it to the neighbors in bouquets. This year, it's greens. The kale. The chard. The arugula. All bitter and tangy and astringent, the greens are a forest of dark, swaying fronds so dense, the cats can hide and we're nary the wiser.

With some gift funds still available in my Amazon account and in my recumbent state, it's been easy to click "add to my cart" when something promises ideas for these things other than steam, plug your nose and chug.

Which is how this ended up on my doorstep. (There's recipes to be had if you click on the link...)

Spend a few minutes on Sara's site Sprouted Kitchen and you'll immediately notice the care and attention she gives the food and her readers. Glowing with her husband's evocative photography, Sprouted Kitchen serves up plate after plate of wholesome, mostly vegetarian dishes, heaping inspiration and simple goodness into every post.

Her book is exactly the same. A collaboration between she and her husband, Hugh, The Sprouted Kitchen is a dance between Sara's food and Hugh's images: Shot in extreme close-up, the Coconut Lime Tart coyly displays only a corner of the dessert, pistachio and coconut crumbs in delicious dishabille in the foreground. Or the Asian Tofu Tacos with Hoisin Slaw? You'll just want to crawl in between the folds of those whole-wheat torillas and bed down.

I'm up and about some at this point in my convalescence, and while curried tempeh leftovers were on tap for dinner, I snuck out the garden so as to try the Tuscan Kale Chopped Salad. Glistening with parmesan vinaigrette and punctuated with apples (our tree giveth and giveth) and dried cherries (in the pantry), the kale salad seemed just the thing (and so good for the eyes!). I whipped it, up eschewing the croutons in my tender state as well as the chickpeas, and substituted a tiny bit of raw garlic in the dressing for the shallots.

Hearty and packed with flavor, Mr. Nake-id must have eaten three platefuls.

We topped the meal off with Sara's Mango Mint Lassi using lemon as a stand-in for fresh orange juice, adoring its sweet, comforting coolness.

Yes, I'm smitten. Tonight we'll try the Honey Mustard Broccoli Salad, broccoli from the garden, and the Creamy Millet with Roasted Portobellos (topped with kale!)

So happily smitten.

Jeepers, creepers!

Let's talk about our eyes shall we?

It's easy to take them for granted. They typically do their job without too much fuss, providing endless hours of entertainment pleasure. They're great to have, especially when knitting lace or trying to find the cat hiding stubbornly in the chard.

Even when buying really chic and expensive glasses for them, it's easy to see eyes as existing apart from our health; they're this outer mechanism that has little to do with that complicated tangle of offal packed inside, more like a camera than organ meats.

Because diseases of the eye aren't life-threatening, they don't attract the attention or celebrities like more serious maladies. This is as it should be. But that does't mean, we shouldn't occasionally give our eyes there due.

Eye disease is quality-of-life-threatening. And there may be some things you can do to increase your chances of lifelong eye health.

A year and a half ago as I sat in my well-dressed opthamologist's office making small talk about her cosmetic services (skin care at the eye doctor? Wheeeeeee!), she had me up and out of the chair, saying, "You have a detachment. We're going to see if we can get you into surgery this afternoon."

My actual retina surgery was the next morning and by noon I was home with an eye patch and a gas bubble in my eye.

Two weeks ago, I saw my retina specialist for a routine follow up when he started rattling off acronyms and directions to the technician. This didn't bode well. "You have another tear in your right eye."

Thursday he operated on me again. This time in the office. The tear was minor and in the periphery, almost not worth repairing, except like a dropped stitch, it would worsen with time.

For the squeamish, I'll spare details, but think "Marathan Man" with needles and an eye chart. (I exaggerate for effect; as with anything, the idea of the procedure required far more fortitude than the physical discomfort, which felt like a long, disastrous hangover.) I left feeling like I had done six rounds with Sonny Liston.

This is a long-winded way of saying, take care of your peepers. If you suspect a retina detachment, get to an eye doctor, stat. The sooner a detachment is fixed, the better your chances of a positive result. Not repairing a detachment  can lead to permanent blindness.

How do you know if something is wrong? The sudden appearance of lots of floaters, flashes of light or a shadow falling over your field of vision. In my first instance, it was like a transluscent scrim had come down over half my right eye. In this recent occurrence, no symptoms.

People who are nearsighted or have family history are more at risk. Sometimes detachments are caused by trauma, but more often than not, the shape of the myopic eye is to blame.

I asked the doctor about dietary interventions, which he indicated were more appropriate for people with macular degeneration. I suspect this means: No data vis-a-vis retinal detachment. But here's an article from the American Optometric Association that offers some sensible information, including wear UVA/UVB sunglasses, eat your greens and take your vitamins.

Chard for breakfast, anyone? Here's looking at you, kids!

 

 

 

Scratch, sniff and read: A review of Coming to My Senses

Benched after eye surgery, I've had the luxury to read and this is what captured my attention. I had thrown it on my iPad after seeing it referenced at Dawn's studio--her perfumes are referenced in the appendex--and it was just what the doctor ordered: A lacy-white-slip of a book that will have you dabbing your throat with your very best and greeting your sweetie with a great, big smile.

In the same way that food can serve as the driving trope in great food writing, perfume becomes both catalyst and metaphor in Alyssa Harad's gorgeous memoir about becoming a woman in full.

It starts with an obsession with language. Stagnating in the aftermath of graduate school and puffy from years of study, Harad stumbles on a perfume blog and loses herself in the purple prose of the perfumistas. The world is a foreign to Harad, a properly indoctrinated academic feminist, and she is both attracted and embarrassed by this sudden new interest. When she finally manages to brave the cosmetics counter (c'mon nerdy girls, you know what it's like, that phalanx of black-smocked women armed with spritzers and opinions about your looks--you with your insecurities tumbling out of your pocketbook), she is undone by a spritz of that full-busted contralto from the 1980s, Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum.

Sniffing and a wedding ensue as does the emergence of her voice as a writer.

Read it. Dream about finding your signature scent. And head to the grocery trailing Jo Malone or Hermes or Guerlain, where even in flip-flops and a t-shirt you'll be making a statement.