I've always got knitting projects going (like the scarf pictured here made with light moss-green Icelandic Lett-Lopi wool). Always got one scarf or another that I'm working away on. I love to knit long, wrap-around-you-numerous-times scarves. Don't know what it is about knitting scarves, but....but yes, I do know: it's completely de-stressing. It's like luxuriating in a bubbly, frothy bath of, ahem, wool.
Wool?? No, I know that doesn't sound de-stressing, especially having grown up wearing wool tights that sometimes itched so bad I thought I was going to hurl. Patterned wool tights that left their rows and curlycues so deeply grooved on my butt and thighs, only to keep me scratching hours after I got to take them off. Remember those?? They were fine outside where it was so cold that you couldn't feel most of your body anyway, but get indoors and sheer woolen terror would set in. Geez, the thought makes me shudder!!
But, pour moi, knitting scarves is kind of mindless. All I have to do is pick up my kneedles and start click-clacking. Well, that and remember what row I'm on if I'm following a pattern -- because I can not memorize a pattern to save my life....but I have a written pattern, so memory stress is not an issue. Plug in a movie, pour a glass of wine or hot cuppa, and before I know it, a quarter is done, then half, then nearly there, then bind off. Ahh, I feel so much better.
And with scarves you don't really worry about tension and gauge, or knitting with anything other than what feels good against your own skin. You can easily make up your own "patterns" by incorporating a few types of stitches, a cable here, some stripes there, and repeating rows quite mindlessly till you get the length you want -- or you run out of yarn. Colors and yarn types are infinitesimal, too. Silks and silk blends, merinos, cashmeres, bamboo, cotton. You name it, it's out there to buy.
Tart 'em up with all kinds of beads, tassels, crocheted or felted flowers and such. The right scarf looks great with anything: chunky merinos with jeans to glittery rayons with cocktail attire.
Need a great gift? Knit a scarf because just about everybody loves scarves. A gorgeous tweed for guys; rufflle-edged chenille or cashmere for the girls. Usually when I'm buying yarn, I've got someone special in mind when I pick out a hank of this or that color.
Also, I read about a cool project the other day that involved knitting (or crocheting) red scarves for orphans leaving the foster system. Gotta Google and look into that before I forget about it. I know it involved getting the scarves to an organization, I believe, from September to November of this year and they would then match them up with kids and give them out. Sounds great! I think some yarn shops may be involved, so check with your favorite shop if you want to participate.
Don't know how to knit or crochet? Check out www.ravelry.com because they have all kinds of tutorials and inspiration out of the wazoo. When I'm stumped or just too stressed to come up with something on my own, I head to ravelry. There are also tons of knitting/crocheting blogs written by some of the most (enviably) creative men and women on the planet. It's absolutely amazing what some knitters have on their needles, and how prolifically productive they are. Blows me away. And don't get me started on the hand-knit socks.
Of course, if I'm super stressed, I head to the kitchen. There's always chocolate in there and just a piece or two of that edible darkness can start the soothing, calming process. Mm, I put it in my mouth, letting it warm in the cradle of my tongue, then let it start melting and flowing like slow-flowing lava to the back and sides of my palate....ahh. Seems to fill every stressed and craving pore of my body.
My oncologist is always telling me to gain a few pounds. According to studies, she says that underweight women score as poorly as overweight women when it comes to cancer. Ack, is that a stressor or what?!?! Why she doesn't write me a scrip for chocolate is beyond me. Wouldn't it be cool to head into the drug store and drop off a scrip for a pound of Michel Cluizel Noir aux Ecorces d'Orange dark chocolate, TID, no generics accepted? And 12 refills, please?
Nini Belle and I went shopping today: sushi for lunch (delicious), tennis shoes for her (2 pairs -yay!), hikers for me (woohoo!), and groceries for both of us. The Plano Whole Foods had its usual Saturday sampling going on, most of which I don't ever get to enjoy because it's not gluten- or meat-free. But today, there was a beautiful young vendor, raw food chef Susan O'Brien of Hail Merry, sampling her raw coconut macaroons and chocolate mint tarts. Oh, wow, they were both super delicious. One bite of the tart and I knew why chocolate was called theobroma, food of the gods. However much I was wanting to sell my soul for one of those little 3-4" tarts, though, my one-salary-household couldn't quite justify the price, so I came home and made my own. And it's wonderful!! I made mine mint-less, but I'm sure you could easily add mint extract, or any other kind of extract, to flavor the chocolate tart. Hm, fresh orange or tangerine zest?
It's raw. It's vegan. It's gluten-free. It's chic. It's satisfying. It's delicious. It's got lots of coconut oil, with all it's MCFAs (middle chain fatty acids) so it's extra good for you!! My doc would be so proud.
It's kind of like a scarf: Dress it up for a special occasion dinner, served on a gorgeous plate with maybe some fresh raspberries, chocolate curls, and some champagne. Or do the chunky tweed version like J and I do and cut yourself a chilled slice and chow down, baby ;) And, yes, lick those fingers!!!
Banana's Raw Chocolate Ganache Tarte
Makes 1 8" tarte -- in about 10 minutes from start to finish! Or you could make smaller tarts, or even fill mini muffin pans, or.....
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup raw macadamias
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 grinds of coarse salt
1. Place all crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse, occasionally scraping down, till all is blended. You can decide how chunky you want the nuts to remain, but I like them about the size of coarse polenta meal.
2. Turn the crust into the tarte pan (with removable bottom) and press evenly into the bottom and sides.
3. Refrigerate while preparing the ganache and clean out the processor bowl and blade.
2/3 cup cocoa
2/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1. Put all the ganache ingredients into the processor bowl and whirrrrr for 5-10 seconds.
2. Pour the ganache into the prepared crust and refrigerate for several hours.
3. Once it's cooled and hardened a bit, decorate as desired.
4. When ready to serve, cut into wedges and let sit a few minutes before serving.
Notes: I ate my first serving of tarte with a small scoop of coconut ice cream. It would be great with strawberry or any other flavor. I ate several slices after that, directly out of hand.
The unchilled ganache would likewise be delectable over a scoop of ice cream, or over a slice of vanilla pound cake.
Although I haven't tried it, I bet a jar of the chilled ganache (which could be eaten straight out of the jar) could be made softly spreadable by placing the jar in some warm water.
Like a scarf, it would be a great gift.
Let me know what you think.