30 September 2010

Baby Cardigan

I'm always looking for babies to knit for. My peer group is at the age where many people are getting married, but it will be a few years before very many start having babies. None of my close friends have babies and I have only one nephew, but he's a year and a half old now, so he's moved on from baby to toddler. Needless to say, I was VERY excited when I found out my cousin and his lovely wife were expecting their first child. I REALLY want a little girl to knit for, because there are many more cute patterns for little girl clothes than for boys. My cousin and his wife have chosen not to find out the gender of their baby, so for now, I had to stick to gender-neutral patterns. I decided to knit this cardigan. I was very happy with how it turned out. I happened to have two skeins of gender-neutral yarn that my former roommate gave me when she didn't use it for it's intended project, so it worked out perfectly. I only had to shop for buttons! The new baby isn't due until December, but I look forward to seeing how it looks on a real model!

Raclette

Three years ago I studied abroad in Lausanne, Switzerland. Most people in the US are familiar with Swiss fondue, but my favorite melted cheese dish from Switzerland was actually raclette. Lausanne is located in the canton (similar to US state) of Valais. Raclette is a cheese which originates in this canton. For the meal, the raclette cheese is traditionally served on top of boiled baby potatoes and accompanied by small dill pickles, pearled onions, and dried meats. Fondue is delicious, but it is very rich, which is why I prefer raclette.

Raclette is a very social meal; it's not one you'd just eat at your home by yourself. It's somewhat of a "fair food," but much fancier (and better) than the "on-a-stick" foods that shows up at state fairs in the US. In Switzerland, raclette was very popular at Christmas markets or other events where there were lots of people milling about. To make raclette in this atmosphere the edge of a giant cheese wheel would be held close to a heat source. Then the melted cheese would be scraped off the wheel directly onto a plate with the potatoes and pickles.

Raclette can be made at home too, but the process differs slightly. Instead of having an enormous wheel of cheese, one would just buy a wedge and cut it into slices. These slices would then be put into personal trays in a grill in the middle go the table. Each guest would have their own tray, and when the cheese got nice and melty, it would be scraped directly onto the plate. I like to put bits of onion in with the cheese while it is melting. There is also a grill surface on the top of the raclette machine where meats, vegetables, or bread can be heated.



We received a raclette grill as a wedding present from one of my best friends I met while studying in Switzerland. I was excited to find the cheese at Ladonna's Fancy Foods, which is really just blocks from where I live. Last night, my husband and I served raclette as our first dinner party as a married couple. It was a lot of fun to use all of the new (matching!) dishes that we got as gifts. We even hung up the Swiss flag for the occasion! We invited our neighbors over as well as my friend M, the other member of Old Ladies' Club. M and I considered this an OLC meeting, and my neighbors became our charter members (they may not know this). The dinner was such a blast! The food was delicious and the company was superb. It's nice to start hanging out with people in Tulsa. It always takes awhile to build a base of friends whenever you move to a new place, but I am really lucky to have such great neighbors and co-workers.

10 September 2010

Labor Day Camping Trip

My husband and I spent labor day camping. We had been talking about going for a few weeks, but mostly in passing. We actually made no plans until about an hour before we hit the road. We had found out that Oklahoma state parks do not accept reservations during holiday weekends, so campsites are available only on a first-come-first-served basis. We had little confidence that we'd get a campsite, so we didn't spend much time preparing. We thought, at the very least, we'd just spend the day at the lake and come home in the evening. We left the house at about noon and made a quick stop at my friend's house to borrow a tent.

The drive from Tulsa to the campsite took about an hour and a half. Once we got off the highway, it was a pretty fun drive. The road was windy and the the scenery was beautiful along the Grand River. We were lucky enough to get a campsite and it only cost us $12 for the night. Once we set up the tent, we realized that we probably should have spent a little more time preparing for the trip. I made a run to the gas station (only store in town) and bought us some matches, food, and bug spray.



The weather couldn't have been more perfect. We were neither hot during the day, nor cold at night. We weren't bothered by mosquitoes either. The tent we stayed in was pretty neat. The "roof" was mesh like the "windows" so we could see out of the top. It had a separate rain cover, but we didn't need that. It was such a beautiful night. We could see the sky and the stars as we were lulled to sleep by the music of the frogs and the crickets.




Oliver really loved camping. It has been so hot lately, that he hasn't spent many extended periods of time outside during the day. He spent the first few months of his life on a farm, so I think he enjoyed being out of the house all day again. He was really content being outside chasing bugs in the shade of the trees surrounding our tent. We also took him in the lake to go swimming. He didn't love, but he didn't hate it either. He kept biting at the water. It was pretty funny to watch.

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