Thursday, December 31, 2009

The New Year Post

This is the post where we look back on 2009 and look ahead to 2010.

I know for sure that the biggest change in 2009 was The Boyfriend losing his job and our decision to relocate back to Minneapolis. The house here in Austin is still on the market and we haven't moved yet. This means we know for sure one thing 2010 has in store for us is The Move. I think I'm doing pretty well with this change--I'm sick and tired of the house being on the market and the constant cleaning and interruptions that go with it, but I'm also looking forward to the house shopping on the other end, and the return to Minneapolis. Minneapolis is home, it is where my family is, and it's great city.

As a knitter 2009 saw the successful launch of And the inclusion of my designs on I started my affair with sock knitting, self-publish several new patterns, and taught several workshops. I finished a plethora of projects, but sadly did not finish my gift knitting in time for Christmas.

2009 was the year I became a "Texas Gardener". The Boyfriend and I built the Kitchen Garden back in March. I wrote about the whole process here on the blog and for the Oct/Nov issue of Texas Gardner Magazine. The garden was pretty much a huge success. I'm still eating the pesto and the baba ghanouj I made and froze.

This past year has been an interesting one when it comes to food. In 2009 I made a return to eating meat, which is really a much longer story and I should and probably will write about it sometime, but the short version of the story goes something like this: I have be en a non-meat eater for more than 20 years and my reason for abstaining has always been the lack of clean meat. I didn't want to eat all those antibiotics, and hormones, and I certainly didn't want to support an industry that is so destructive to our environment. But in 2009 I discovered Greenling and found myself buying good clean meat for The Boyfriend. Everything was pasture raised, organic, drug free, and local. I could support that. And one day while cooking a clean local lamb burger for The Boyfriend I thought "I'm going to eat this." And I did. And now I can hardly call myself a vegetarian--we still only eat meat a couple of times per week, and we only eat local, pasture-raised organic meat. It's a big change.

2009 was also the year I decided to learn to can, as in food preservation. I did jams when the strawberries hit the farmer's market, and peach sauce when the peaches were in. I also pickled peppers from the kitchen garden. I organized a couple of Soup Swaps in 2009. And did lots of shopping at the Farmer's Market.

As a runner I did the 3M Half Marathon in January, several charity 5Ks, and of course the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in 2009. I've taken on a new running partner and never lace up the shoes without Aaron Johnson at my side. It's nice to have the company.

So what lies ahead in 2010... The Move of course... Minneapolis of course.

2010 promises many new knitting designs, a few new workshops, and the publication of 1,000 Fabulous Hats (which will include several of my hats.)

I know I'll have a garden again in 2010, but it will be in Minneapolis. Which is fine, because Minneapolis is a great place to garden and I have lots of experience growing in the Upper Midwest.

We will of course continue to eat as locally, and as organically as possible. I have started researching sources of local clean meat in the Minneapolis area, and even found a meat CSA, I suspect that 2010 will see us continuing to eat clean and local meat. We will also continue to shop the Farmer's Market, and at our local food co-op.

There is already talk of a canning party with several of my Minneapolis friends. And I suppose there will be soup swapping as well. And I'll continue to post recipes here on the blog.

As a runner I look forward my return to Minneapolis also--I'll never have to run on the road again as Minneapolis is a runner (and cyclist's) dream in terms of paths and green-ways. The Boyfriend and I have said we will run the Valentine's Day 5k at Lake Harriet if we're there. I'm sure there will be plenty of running in 2010.

I'd love to learn to cross country ski, and to make pasta. I'm planning a reunion with my Austin knitting friends--we'll meet the first weekend in October in Taos NM for the Wool and Fiber Fest.

What does 2010 have in store for you?

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Gift of Good Food

Again this year I have made a commitment to handmade gifts. This means a ton of gift knitting, of course. Unfortunately most of my gift knitting is yet to be finished so I'll save that for a later post.

What is finished, and in the mail are some yummy gifts of the edible variety. This year I sent preserves I made this summer to my family - The peach rum sauce, the spiced peach jam, and the two types of strawberry jam.

I also made huge batches of granola to send to Minnesota. Granola is super simple really and when packaged in a half gallon Ball canning jar it makes a pretty snazzy gift. Here's my recipe.

Almond Granola

4 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw sliced almonds
1 cup wheat germ
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/2 cup grape seed oil
1/2 honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 cups dried fruit

Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. Gentle heat the oil, honey, vanilla, and cinnamon and stir well. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large baking pan. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry goods and toss until coated evenly. Bake for 1.5 to 2 hours (or until toasty and crunchy) stir often while baking. Add the dry fruit of your choice after the granola has been allowed to cool.

I prefer raisins, but for my sister who dislikes them I used dried cranberries. I think dried blueberries would be a lovely choice also.


Granola on Foodista

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Wall of Welcome - A Community Art Project

There's a community art project in my neighborhood - The Wall of Welcome. It's a huge mosaic project put together by local artist Jean Graham. The wall is in the Crestview/Brentwood neighborhood of Austin TX and it shelters the parking lot of the neighborhood business district - the sort of "main street" area you find in a lot of older neighbors in big cities. The little cluster of shops includes a crappy IGA grocery store, an old school barber shop, a pharmacy, and The Little Deli.

The main part of the wall is one large mosaic that depicts some of the history and local lore of the neighborhood. All along the top of the main mosaic and one end of the wall are smaller tiles that were created by community participants. Some were created by local businesses, some by neighbors and residences, and there is one from the elementary school and the fire house.

I first saw the wall long before I lived in the neighborhood when my book group took a little walking field trip to look at the wall while it was in progress.

When I decided to move to this neighborhood and was shopping for a house here, my Dad came to visit from MN. I took him to the wall to show him where I intended to live.

The wall is finished now, has been for a little while I think. I pass the wall frequently on my bike and when I run. I love the wall. It has always made me feel, well, welcome!

Last weekend I walked down to the wall with one of the dogs to take pictures. I thought I should photograph the wall before I leave Texas. It is one of the things I will miss in Austin.