Monthly Archives: December 2014

Spring Awakening

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I’m planning spring knitting.

I know, I know. It’s December! It’s cold! It’s the time of year to snuggle up in your sweats and cozy fleece tops and knit big, thick warm sweaters because it’s the only time of the year you can do that without passing out from the weight and the warmth of the wool. It really shouldn’t be the time of the year to start lusting after light and pretty things. Winter only started 10 days ago.

But I am. The last pair of cozy, warm house socks have officially come off the needles and I’m about ready to put the heavier yarns back into the yarn closet (what?) for another couple of months. When I got my diagnosis back in July, all I wanted to do was knit my way out of whatever funk I was in at the time, and there were more than one. My comfort knitting tends to be on the heavier side; it’s all soft and cozy and warm. It’s the fiber nerd’s equivalent of mac and cheese or mashed potatoes and gravy.

I feel pretty, oh so pretty...

I feel pretty, oh so pretty…

And now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I can feel a lightening of the load, too.  It’s only a little bit, but things don’t seem as weighty as they did a month ago. I got through the holidays in one piece. The cards got mailed, gifts were bought and exchanged. I didn’t get to see everyone that I wanted to, but that’s okay. Our family and friends are all pretty close to where we live, so there’s no need to wait until next Christmas to see them. Why can’t we celebrate in April instead?

It’s time to break out all the lighter, beautifully colored yarns and make spring things. My last day of treatment is three weeks from today and I’m ready to throw a party.

Soup Is Good Food

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I was warned about this.

They tried to tell me, they really did. They gave me the pamphlets and the booklets and folders filled with information and helpful hints. You can’t say I wasn’t warned.

But, no. Not me, no way, no how. I was going to play by the rules and this determined, feisty cancer patient was going to do everything she was told to do, which was pretty unlike the determined, feisty person I was before the cancer.

And it happened anyway. The dreaded dry mouth, a perfectly common side effect of radiation treatment.

I feel like I’ve been gnawing on a salt lick or licking the inside of a potato chip bag. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but you can safely assume that your appetite flies out the window. Mine is somewhere over the Schuylkill River right now.

So because of that, the menu is a bit limited these days. Smoothies and milkshakes, egg and tuna salads, soups. Ice cream, tapioca, rice pudding. It’s all easy to eat with lots of protein. A little too much sugar but oh, well. I really don’t want to kick cancer in the ass and end up as a diabetic, but I don’t think that’ll happen in the next month or so. At least I hope not. Touch wood and all of that.

I made this red lentil butternut squash soup over the weekend. It comes from the fabulous Anna Thomas (she of the Vegetarian Epicure books) and if you’re a fan of soups, Love Soup is one for your cookbook shelf. Some of her recipes are a little time consuming and you’ll definitely be multi-tasking but there’s not a recipe in here that’s too fussy or difficult to make.

Bite me, Campbell's.

Bite me, Campbell’s.

I made this even less un-fussy by using a whole butternut squash instead of a smaller one and a sweet potato. First of all, it was the smallest squash the market had and secondly, I couldn’t be arsed to peel a potato.

And it was the same thing with the cumin. Anna calls for toasted and ground whole cumin seeds, but a freshly opened jar of ground cumin will do just fine. And since this has Indian undertones to begin with, this might be fabulous with a little tandoori or garam masala instead. Next time.


Red Lentil and Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1 generous cup of red lentils
  • 1 ½ tsp sea salt
  • Butternut squash, about 2 ½ lbs (smaller ones are easier to cut in half!)
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. tumeric
  • ¼ – ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 4 – 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 -3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice to taste
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  2. Rinse the lentils and combine them in a soup pot with 4 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and boil gently for about 20 minutes, skimming off any foam that rises to the top. The lentils will change from red to gold. Surprise!
  3. While the lentils simmer, cut the squash in half from end-to-end. Seed it, and put the squash, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Stick it in the oven and roast it for about 45 minutes or so. It’ll be nice and soft.
  4. At the same time, heat the olive oil in a saute pan. Add the onions with a big pinch of salt, give it a good stir and let them cook down until they’re golden and soft, about 20 to 30 minutes or so.
  5. When the lentils are just tender, add the onions, ginger, cumin, turmeric, red pepper flakes and 4 cups of the vegetable broth.
  6. Bring it to a simmer. Scoop the squash out of its skin and add it to the soup. Give it a good stir, put the lid on and let it cook for about 20 minutes or so.
  7. If it looks too thick, add the remaining broth.
  8. You can either serve it as is (very rustic!) or puree it, which is what I did since my ginger wasn’t minced all that finely.
  9. Season it to taste. Some sour cream or Greek yogurt on top is awfully good.
  10. Enjoy!

Knock It Out of the Park

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So, today’s a weird landmark of sorts.

I’m officially two weeks into my treatment and exactly one month from completing it.

Now there’s a sentence I thought I’d never write.

I wanna be just like you.

I wanna be just like you.

And, it’s…okay. I’m starting to feel some of the side effects, but for the most part…okay. So far, so good and all of that. Right now, it’s nothing I can’t handle and for the few things I can’t deal with, well, that’s why the meds are in the medicine cabinet. Eating is a bit of a hassle, so it’s a good thing I like yogurt and soup. There’s a lot of both coming my way in the next couple of weeks.

There will be lots of naps, too. And cat therapy with the wondercat Frogger, who seems to really understand that MomCat isn’t exactly well these days.

And knitting, of course. Easy things, but there’s always something on the needles. Since there’s no rush to finish anything, it will get done when it gets done. It’s silly to push it when it’s supposed to be giving me some measure of quietude, isn’t it? It’s counterintuitive to do otherwise.

What I do need to concentrate on right now is getting better. Or, as my doctor said when we were discussing my post-surgical treatment, “You’d have to work very hard to do better than you’re doing now, but you need to have a complete game here.”

I’d better go get some rest. I still have a couple of innings to go.

Box Full Of Letters

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I hate my post office.

For the past 2 1/2 years, we’ve been continiously getting mail for former tenants. And like the nice person I am, I save it and when I have a little stack of it, I run it over to there and explain to whoever’s behind the counter that these people don’t live there any longer, haven’t lived there in a long time and could they please stop doing this to me since it’s starting to get really old and all of that nonsense. I hope it stuck this time.

Signed, sealed, not delivered...

Signed, sealed, not delivered…

Last week a free skein of yarn got sent back to a very nice indy fiber spinner and dyer because of an “insufficient address”. The address was fine, of course, but guess who sent it back? My post office, of course. It was alpaca sock, no less, which is almost like crack to sock knitters.

Okay, it’s probably better than crack.

And today I went over to mail some holiday cards. Some of them have extra weight, so I asked the counter person to weigh one and tell me how much postage they’d need and to give me the appropriate stamps.

I go over to the work table and start putting stamps on the cards and realize she sold me wedding stamps. Wedding stamps, people.

So, if you get something in the mail from me, it’s not an invitiation to my nuptials.

I hate my post office.