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21  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Re: Greasy Classics made Vegan--MOZZARELLA STICKS and chili cheese on: January 27, 2009 03:02:48 PM

that and ending up in the hospital a few times. Anyone got any good tips on an iron-rich vegan diet that doesn't rely on lentils and spinach?

Fortified cereal is my life saver.  One serving of my cereal of choice (Malt-o-Meal Coco Roos) has 50% of what they suggest you get in iron in a day.  Top that with I usually eat two servings in a bowl, along with fortified soymilk, and I've never had an iron deficiency.  To make sure your body absorbs as much iron as it can, have some vitamin C with whatever your iron source is.  This could be a glass of orange juice or a supplement.
22  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Re: Greasy Classics made Vegan--MOZZARELLA STICKS and chili cheese on: January 27, 2009 02:54:05 PM
I'm not entirely vegan (meaning, I don't scour ingredients of a bag of chips for any sort of animal bi-product), and every now and then I eat organic cheese because I hate the taste of fake cheese. But I am going to have to try making those, they look so yummy!

I get insatiable cravings for good old deep fried stuff too. So I started doing fried super spicy tofu "nuggets". I'm sure there's a professional similar recipe for it but this is what I do. Judging from your taste I bet you'll love these!
- Mix 1/3 break crumbs/cracker meal/panko (whichever is to your liking) with 2/3 cornmeal, a bunch of Sesame Seeds, and a couple dashes of Cayenne pepper.
- To substitute the egg to keep the breading, use hot sauce. RedHot brand sticks the best. Thicker the sauce the better.
- Dip and bread twice then deep fry. I actually do a stir fry type of thing with Olive Oil instead sometimes, that with the cornmeal taste really good.

Oh wow, those look REALLY good!  I never thought about using hot sauce as the sticky-ingredient in breading.  I'll have to try that.
23  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Re: Greasy Classics made Vegan--MOZZARELLA STICKS and chili cheese on: January 26, 2009 01:48:52 PM
I will keep my mouth shut about your diet, even though the healthy vegan in me is screaming, but your mozzi stx are such a good idea...I have not had teese, but I have had sheese, have you tried that yet? MMMM...it is so good and I bet would work well here!

Sheese is my secret lover, but I have never been able to get it to melt.  It's what I go to when I need a good solid hunk of cheese to bite into.  Vegan Gourmet and Teese are what I use when I want something melty.
24  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Re: Greasy Classics made Vegan--MOZZARELLA STICKS and chili cheese on: January 26, 2009 11:33:36 AM
This looks so good! I've been curious about Teese ~ I keep seeing it on veganessentials.

I'm going to have to order some! Have you tried other flavors?

I've only tried the mozzarella, but I've heard the cheddar is like Velveeta.  MMMMM.
25  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Re: Greasy Classics made Vegan--MOZZARELLA STICKS and chili cheese on: January 25, 2009 11:27:45 PM
Actually I'm the only vegan I ever heard of who actually gained weight after going veg!

I gained 20.  Cheesy  After I got over the initial shock of finding soy ice cream, I lost around 10 of that.
26  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Re: Greasy Classics made Vegan--MOZZARELLA STICKS and chili cheese on: January 25, 2009 06:39:41 PM
Oh, and your chilli dogs are on my grandparent's plates.  Can I please have them back?  jk, hehe.... Smiley

Funny story: When I was unpacking kitchen stuff with my roommate when we first moved in together, we discovered that we BOTH had the same plates.  I guess we're a good match!  PS: Your grandparents have good taste Wink
27  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Greasy Classics made Vegan--MOZZARELLA STICKS and chili cheese on: January 25, 2009 06:21:21 PM
I've been vegan for 7 years now, and if it's one thing I can't stand, it's how so many food companies think vegan = uber healthy sprouts and whole grains.  I'm vegan for the animals, not because I have a granola fetish, and it's a very sad day when the only vegan snacks I can find are whole grain, fat-free, low sodium monstrosities.  Give me something deep-fried!

For all the other deep-fried-loving, high-sodium-diet vegans out there, I want to share my greatest discoveries: vegan mozzarella sticks, chili cheese dogs and chili cheese fries.

Before I was vegan, mozzarella sticks were one of my favorite foods, and it's been a very sad 7 years since the last time I've had them.  I got ahold of this new vegan cheese called Teese, which is absolutely amazing.  I haven't found it in stores where I live, so I had to order it online from veganessentials.com.  It was totally worth it.  I've heard that this is the best fake cheese out there so far, and I can see why.  After using some for pizza, I realized it would probably be a really good base for mozzarella sticks.  I tried making some without a recipe, which ended in an oily disaster.  Then I found this recipe for mozzarella sticks.  Apparently the trick is to double and even triple dip the cheese sticks in the breading.

I followed that recipe almost exactly, doing three runs through the breading cycle, substituting the granola-friendly whole-wheat pastry flour for good, old fashioned plain white flour.  I also used canola oil, which I use every time I deep fry something.  Much less healthy, much more delicious.

They weren't gooey and stringy like real mozzarella sticks are, but the flavor is spot on, at least from what I remember they tasted like 7 years ago.

Another one of my recent favorites is chili cheese.  My doctor chastised me for not getting enough fiber, and told me to try eating beans every day.  She suggested chick-peas and hummus, but that stuff is WAY too healthy for me.  So when I'm in need of a fiber kick, I go for chili cheese fries and chili cheese dogs.

Sorry, I eat the chili cheese fries too fast to have a picture, but I do have a picture of the chili cheese dogs I made a few nights ago.  These are really really easy to make: I buy some chili beans in sauce from the store (make sure to check the ingredients! I use Fred Meyer brand), and heat them up on the stove.  Meanwhile, I prepare frozen French fries or vegan hot dogs like normal.  For the cheese fries, I generally grate some cheddar Vegan Gourmet cheese into the beans while they're heating up, and then after I've dumped the cooked fries in a bowl, I'll pour a bunch of the chili cheese on top of them.  For the chili dogs, I cooked the beans separate and melted the grated cheese in the microwave.  If you do it this way, you have to be really quick because the cheese only stays melted for a few seconds before it solidifies again.

If anybody else tries making the mozzarella sticks, I'd love to see more pictures and hear more thoughts on them.  I've tried making mozzarella sticks with a bunch of other types of vegan cheeses, but I never had them turn out edible before.
28  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Re: Sweater Reincarnation on: January 19, 2009 06:27:45 PM
So pretty! you really made a silk purse out of two sow's ears.

Question: would it work to dye the yarn before you unraveled the sweater? (Or "rescued the yarn" as I think of it.)

Under the right circumstances, I don't see any reason why it wouldn't work to dye a sweater and then unravel it.  I prefer to unravel first, because any inconsistencies in color aren't going to be in say, one of the sleeves, as opposed to one small section of the hank, which will just disappear when knit.  It's not visible in any of my pictures, but I didn't end up with a solid green.  There are some lighter patches in there, but they're not obvious because of how it knit up.  Having the yarn in hanks really ensures that each section of yarn is exposed to dye, which isn't necessarily true for a sweater if it's really tightly knit or tightly seamed.

I've actually unraveled sweaters that look like the factory dyed them after they were knit--I found white patches in the yarn!  That's something I'd want to avoid as much as possible.
29  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Re: Sweater Reincarnation on: January 19, 2009 02:53:28 PM
Nice dye job! I love that color, and the fit is perfect on you. I'm so jealous, my thrifted sweaters always turn out to be knitted fabric cut to size, so they unravel in 1-row segments!

This is the guide I used when I first started thrifting sweaters.  One of the things to check for is the seams: it's pretty easy to tell when a sweater has been surged (which ends up giving you lots of short pieces) or seamed, where each piece is knit flat and you can unravel it into one long piece.  It's also good to check for felting, which can make unraveling near impossible.
30  KNITTING / Knitting: Completed Projects / Sweater Reincarnation UPDATED with semi-tutorial on: January 19, 2009 02:11:45 PM
Here's my newest sweater:

Once upon a time, I bought a sweater from a thrift store. It was a large, light olive turtleneck with a fiber content of wool, viscose, angora and cashmere, and was priced at $6.99. I love buying sweaters to unravel because I can usually find some really good quality yarn for really cheap, and I always end up with enough to make at least one sweater.

The sweater in question

In the midst of a yarn dyeing frenzy, I came across a cheap pattern for a really cute sweater

Despite my dislike of cropped sweaters and short sleeves, there was something about it that just screamed knit me now! When I was looking at the yarn requirements for this sweater, I noticed that called for yarn of the exact same weight as that green sweater I'd bought several months earlier. There was one problem, however. Olive green is one of my favorite colors, and as such I tend to accumulate lots of things (such as yarn) in it. The yarn I'm going to be making shrug out of soon is the exact same color as the sweater in question. What did I do? I dyed it

Unraveling the sweater went very smoothly, and I ended up with 1423 yards of very high quality DK weight yarn. This is A LOT, considering the sweater it came from was three sizes bigger than I typically wear.

Dyeing it, on the other hand, was more complicated and labor intensive than I expected. Because I had so much yarn, I needed a LOT of dye. I actually dyed it all once, and then realized it wasn't nearly as dark as I wanted, and had to dye it all again. My dye pots aren't big enough to hold that much yarn, so I had to do all the yarn in several batches, requiring some very careful measurements and calculations to make sure each skein got the same amount of dye to ensure they were all the same shade.

I used Wilton's cake dye paste, in color Teal to dye over the olive color and get more of an emerald tone. This tutorial was a great help in dyeing yarn with this type of dye.

Not quite the color I wanted, but close enough. I ran out of dye and didn't feel like attempt #3
Determined to be the first person to finish this sweater on Ravelry, I cast on as soon as my yarn was dry, on Christmas Day. It wasn't as simple as just following the pattern, though. I don't like cropped sweaters, so I basically had to write a pattern for the bottom half of this cardigan, and I completely re-wrote the sleeves. Things went better than I could have possibly imagined: the additions to the pattern came out exactly as I hoped they would and the sweater fits perfectly. Since the sweater is knit in separate pieces, I had to do a lot of seaming, and setting in the sleeves was pretty labor-intensive, but the results were perfect. For buttons, I went back to the thrift store and found an old button-up dress from the early 90's, and stole the buttons off of it. I ended up with 14 3/4" abalone buttons for $6.99. I don't even want to think what I would have paid for buttons like that new.

I'm surprised this pattern isn't more popular than it is. On Ravelry, it's only being knit by one other person, and is only in two other's queues. If anybody here likes my mods and wants to take a crack at this sweater, let me know and I can let you know what I did. The sweater itself was pretty easy to knit, but the seams might be somewhat daunting to somebody without much of a sewing background. The cable pattern is easy as cake and I had it memorized after three repeats.

I got asked by some people in a different place I posted for info on how I modified it, and I figured it's only fair I share on Craftster too.

The modifications for the body were really easy for me to figure out because my high hip measurement and my bust measurement are the same. I'm a visual thinker, so the first thing I did was draw a schematic. It looked like this:

The row gauge for the sweater is 8 rows per inch. I wanted the sweater to be at my high hip, which is 5" down from my waist. This would be 40 rows. I looked at the pattern for the bust increases, and realized that the increases were done over slightly under 40 rows. The sweater is knit from the bottom up, so as the pattern is written, you'd cast on at the waist, and after the ribbing, immediately start doing increases for the bust. Since my hip and bust measurements are the same, this meant I could just mirror the shaping. I looked ahead in the pattern to see the stitch count when the increases were done (the stitch count at the bust) and cast on that number minus 4 for the back and minus 2 for the fronts (there's a set-up row with these stitches added after the ribbing).

I worked in 2x2 rib for 2", making sure to write down how many rows this was for the other pieces, and then followed the pattern more or less as it was written, except instead of doing increases at first, I did decreases. When I finished the decreases and had the number of stitches the pattern said I should have after the set-up row, I worked even for 17 rows before doing the increases. This area took the place of the ribbing in the original pattern. After that, I followed the pattern as stated. Because of the alterations, the instructions to "knit until piece measures X inches" wasn't helpful to me, so I wrote the number stated + the length I had added in my alterations. For me, this ended up being 6 inches instead of the 5 I had measured originally.

The sleeves were a lot more labor-intensive. I measured my arms at my wrist, my elbow, and around the highest part of my bicep, and added around half an inch to an inch of ease, depending on where it was (the elbow got more ease). I measured the distance from my wrist to my elbow, and from my elbow to my armpit. And then I drew another picture:

I made sure that my bicep measurement and stitch count would be the same as the pattern would have it be to ensure that the sleeve cap would fit into the armscye. Then I used the gauge given in the pattern to figure out how many stitches I would need at my wrist and elbow, and found out how many rows would be in between them. This way, I found out how many stitches I would need to increase over how many rows. For example, I had to increase from 42 sts at the wrist to 62 sts at the elbow over 68 rows. This meant 10 paired increases over 68 rows, or 1 paired increase every 6.8 rows. I rounded up to 7. I had a different rate of increases between my elbow and my bicep, because I'm pretty scrawny and the two measurements are only 1.5 inches apart.

When I was picking up stitches for the button band, I figured out that the pattern has you pick up 2 sts for every 3 rows. So instead of picking up the number the pattern said to, I took the number of rows I had (it was very helpful to take so many notes in the end!) and multiplied it by 2/3 to get the number I'd need to pick up.

And that's pretty much it. One thing I would HIGHLY recommend doing is knitting the fronts at the same time. You'll have to wrangle two strands of yarn, but you will be certain that they are both the same length and you won't have to keep really anal notes like I did. I knit the sleeves at the same time, and it really helped. If I did this sweater again, I'd knit the fronts at the same time as well.

ALSO!! People have been requesting sweater recycling tutorials. I found this really good one, complete with pictures of pretty much every step imaginable. Recycling sweaters can be a little bit of work sometimes, but keep in mind, I paid $6.99 for enough wool-viscose-angora-cashmere to knit a full sweater AND still have 400 yards left. Even at LYS clearance sales, I wouldn't be able to get over 1400 yards of a similar yarn for that cheap. And if I could, please tell me where. Cheesy
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