June 2, 2011

Veggie patch update

Just a quick veggie patch update (on a super sunny afternoon). The back garden is doing well. Tomatoes are growing each day. Here is a close up of the Roma tomatoes: grow guys! grow! Peppers are coming along slowly.

On to the bounty from the front yard. This is the second giant batch of rainbow swiss chard, some of which will get used tonight, and the rest will travel to PA. (The first batch went to Meg). You will also notice that there are 4 rainbow carrots!!! My first carrots!!! 2 white, 1 orange and 1 purple. I can cross carrots of my Whole Foods list tonight. The beets are not ready yet. The radishes and lettuce that I threw down before we went on vacation are doing well.  

Next, is this alien: kohlrabi. It is a fun word to say. He came in the CSA and I am super excited. I was checking them out at the King Street Market the other week. So I have a delicious plan for him this evening. Will share later. 

Franklin isn't doing so well. A lot of his leaves are turning yellow and falling off. We'll see. He is getting a drink right now. Natural suggestions?

Finally, us. On vacation. In LA. For 5 delightful, relaxing days. We went hiking. We ate a lot...including some amazing vegan meals (more on that later). We laughed with wonderful friends while drinking delicious wine, gathered around a hand made table under an old avocado tree. We went to church together. Yes, it was that perfect. I can't wait for them to come out and visit us, but I also am looking forward to going back in the spring. 

May 15, 2011

"2011" The First Half (almost)

One of my goals was to blog more.
Current status: FAIL.
January, February and March were CONSUMED with running and yoga. It was pretty amazing as each Saturday morning I hit a new "all time high" for my mileage. My longest training run was 23 miles on March 5th. I was going to yoga on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays and running Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. By March I just didn't want to have to run anymore. But it all paid off and I finished my first marathon on my 29th birthday. It wasn't the time I had projected at all, I hit a few bumps along the way that I was prepared for, but I did it. The end. If you want to know details, feel free to ask, but I'll need at least a glass of wine get going.
Now I have been training exclusively in my New Balance Minimus Trail shoes. Not running or going to yoga as consistently as before, but I'll get back in the groove. I am enjoying watching my pace drop as I get stronger. I was at 9:27 average in December and last month I was averaging 8:20. I am also addicted to Nuun tablets in my water. Current favorite flavor: grape. And finally, we have made some great new friends in the pasts weeks a months through running. All runners are a little nutty and that is perfectly fine with me.

Status of some other goals:

Make pasta and ravioli: SUCCESS.
My parents and Tim gave me the pasta roller and cutter attachments for my Kitchen Aid. With Tonya's help and counter space, we made tons of pasta and ravioli. The following weekend, Tim, my mom and I made more pasta (plain and whole wheat) and some ricotta and asparagus ravioli. I have not made any pasta since...

Weekly dinners with friends and eating more fish: PARTIAL SUCCESS.
We are officially in love with cedar planks for grilling. Twice we have grilled salmon and twice it was delicious. My parents have decided that almost eveything they grill shoudl be on a cedar plank: salmon, trout, chicken, potatoes...
We shared some cedar plank salmon with friends on Easter (after our 2nd annual bike ride in for Sunrise Easter Service). No recipe for the salmon. Just lemon juice, and slices, some garlic and butter and olive oil. We also had a salad with some roasted asparagus and horseradish scalloped potatoes. The potatoes were so delicious, I am waiting for the slightest excuse (and free time) to make them again.  

And, the garden: SUCCESS.
Meet Franklin. He is our new peach tree. He lives in the front yard along with swiss chard, carrots, beets, radishes, lettuce, cilantro (left over from last year), rosemary, sage and various flowers.
The back garden is doing well too. This year we are attempting red onions in addition to yellow and red bell peppers, roma tomatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, anaheim chili peppers, chives, basil, more sage and thyme. In more back yard news, we are working with a contractor to build a deck! A whole 8x14 deck. We are super excited. Construction has not started yet.

That is all for now. I have to get back to some research that I initially sat down to complete. Hopefully that will result in another update in the coming weeks.

The current schedule is as follows:
Monday: yoga
Tuesday: run
Wednesday: hills or track
Thursday: run and/or yoga
Friday: yoga
Saturday: long run
Sunday: off

I am trying to find time in there for some creative cooking as well as some much needed scrap booking.

We'll see.

January 3, 2011

French Onion Soup: B-E-A-utiful!


I have been in need of this comfort food for some time now. It has been cold. Really cold. This morning there was a wind chill of 8.5 degrees. NOT to be confused with 9 degrees... because that is obviously much warmer.
So, french onion soup. Easy. Don't be intimidated. 
Chop lots of onions. I like a combination of red and yellow.
Saute/caramelize in butter.You want dark brown. 
Add a pinch of thyme.
Deglaze with a splash of red wine. 
Add lots of beef/onion stock. Simmer. 
Taste. Simmer. Taste. You'll know when it is perfect.
Toast your favorite bread. We use Ezekiel. I cut it into bite sized pieces and set on top of my soup. 
Sprinkle generously with cheese. This is VERY personal. My Mom like mozzarella. I have seen provolone and swiss used. I used gruyere
I missed out on the best part because i am not sure if these bowls are oven safe. Place under the broiler until cheese is golden and bubbly. I used the microwave.

I grilled a steak too. But I wasn't feeling it once it was cooked. 

December 29, 2010

Wrap up 2010

To start, I'd like to say that I am extremely thankful that Tim and I have each other and our families, our health and happiness, our house and our jobs as we end one year and start another.
I wish health and happiness to all of our friends and family. It has been a crazy, trying year to say the least. I would really appreciate it if everyone could stay healthy in the future.
Please? Thanks.

What happened?
I am now a runner. I prepared for and ran my first race this year: Love the Run You're With 5K (that 5K a few years ago doesn't count). That lead to a few more 5Ks, a 4 miler, a 36 hour relay where one of my runs was 7.4 miles (my most miles to that point) at 3am, through a battlefield, a piss poor marathon training that resulted in an injury and deferment and a 10K that I actually trained for so I could qualify for another marathon. I will wrap up this "Year of Running" with a New Year's Eve 4-miler with Tim.

How things have progressed:
stability sneakers: barefoot running
no need for training or consistency: running with a group 3 days each week, including Saturday long runs
Polar heart rate monitor: Garmin 305
not taking marathon training seriously: taking marathon training very seriously
cheating on a 3 mile run: running 10 miles without stopping
35 minute 5K: 28 minute 5K

Left IT Band (January)
cause: shoes too big, running on a treadmill, increasing mileage too fast
Right ankle sprain/strain with Achilles strain (September)
cause: lack of strength from piss poor barefoot training

In addition to running, we have started to eat healthier too and just general paying attention to how certain foods make us feel. New to us in 2010: quinoa, chocolate soy milk, greek yogurt, soy joy bars, Annie's Goddess salad dressing.

January: first running injury
February: First 5K, Dr. Kathy
March: I turned 28, Wedding #1
April: American Odyssey Relay
May: Wedding #2, planted an AMAZING veggie garden
June: Wedding #3 in Chicago and work trip to St. Louis
July: Anniversary #5 and DMB concert
August: barefoot, Chappaquiddick
September: Tim turned 30, Wedding #4, 3 years at job, second running injury
October: Tim ran his first marathon, the Marine fitting
November: Joined a running group, ran a 10K (qualified for National Marathon)
December: Purchased "cold gear" more running in 50 layers and coming home soaking wet, Vegas had his ACL repaired, got a new grill for Christmas

What is coming down the line for 2011? 
January: unlimited yoga!! (thanks BFF)
March: National Marathon, I turn 29
July: Anniversary #6
September: Tim turns 31
October: Marine Corps Marathon
November: Hawaii vacation with my family
In general: make pasta, make ravioli, get back to weekly dinner with friends, eat more fish, get all pictures in an album and organized, sell stamp sets that I don't use, downsize "stuff" in general, write more letters to friends and family, plant an even better garden! I'm not terribly thrilled with anything that I have cooked this year. That is a problem. There seems to be a fine line between what my running body craves (quinoa, avocado, beans, milk) and what I read in Food & Wine (butter, cream, beef, alcohol). I need to work on that.

December 8, 2010

Curry quinoa cakes

By this time you should know my LOVE for quinoa. If not, I LOVE QUINOA. I am always searching for recipes that utilize this super-food and recently I stumbled across this one. Quinoa AND curry... beautiful! Tim already had quinoa cooked for the week, so it didn't get cooked in chicken stock. I excluded the peas (not really a fan) and since I didn't have red curry paste I used curry powder and cayenne powder. Apparently I forgot the corn starch, I didn't notice, and I made a pretty good sized batch so I needed 2 eggs and a little more of everything else. I used a 1/2 cup measuring cup to form the cakes and flipped them into a pan with a little oil. They held together really well. 
I threw boneless, skinless chicken thighs (yum) in the oven with a curry seasoning meant for potatoes and cauliflower and added a little tandoori. The flavors were so different but complimented each other perfectly.
Of course, I topped it all off with tzatiki. 

Tim said he could eat quinoa cakes forever, I agree. 

I will now be testing variations- yum!

November 23, 2010

Dijon chicken let down

This is a very boring picture of a very boring batch of Dijon chicken. 
I am upset because I was so looking forward to it being "knock-your-socks-off" wonderful and it just wasn't.
I couldn't hit the right balance with sauce. The ratio between chicken stock, Dijon, and cream was never right. And I am starting to wonder if this is NOT meant to be served over whole wheat noodles. (I used to eat this over cheap, white, angel hair pasta.) At least the chicken was fabulous.

Don't be discouraged, 9 times out of 10 this turns out brilliant...I was just too nervous about playing the Giants.

Dijon Chicken

Boneless, skinless chicken (breasts or thighs)
While still frozen, sprinkle with pepper, mustard powder and a tablespoon or two of Dijon mustard and a tablespoon or two of water. Let thaw.
Cook chicken in a pan or pot (you will use this to make the gravy later). Make sure that the chicken gets a nice golden crust. When the chicken is done, remove and set aside.

The sauce is "simple". It is a combination of more Dijon, chicken stock and maybe some mustard powder and pepper. When the flavor is right, thicken. Remove from heat and stir in either a bit of sour cream, plain yogurt, or cream.

Serve over pasta. Originally angel hair, but now whole wheat...whatever floats your boat.

November 21, 2010

Cranberry Crawl Catastrophe
The Potomac Valley Track Club hosted their Cranberry Crawl 10k on Saturday. First off, it was $5 to register so that was wonderful. Second, they post their results online so I could use them to register for the National Marathon. I just needed to come in under 1:05. No problem. All training runs were under this. My average mile these days is a hair under 10 minutes. That makes me happy.
Anyway, so Tim and I are out there saturday morning running around Hains Point, and we see a Park Police officer talking to race officials. For reasons unknown to me the permit was revoked and the timing for the race stopped after 57:37. So anyone who came in after that can contact race officials and infomr them of their time if they kept it or an "approximate". Are you kidding me! But wait, it gets better. I was right at the front of the start line. Started my watch when they said go. Made it to mile 1 in 7:59. Amazing. I pulled my sleeve back over my watch and hit the "stop" button! I realized this at mile 3. This particular watch and jacket have a history...the jacket likes to turn my watch on and off. No big deal, I can see that they are still keeping time. So I reset and hit start for my second/final lap. 28:56. Wonderful. But they are no longer keeping time as I cross the finish. I know I rocked it but I feel guilty for giving them a time less than my last 6.2 training run. So I tell them 1:01. Then the guy who crossed right behind me (at least they had our numbers in order when we finished) said he clocked 59 minutes. But my 1:01 was already down, I couldn't change it. So now I'm just bummed. Bummed that my watch and jacket malfunctioned. Bummed that they stopped timing 3 minutes before I crossed the finish line. Bummed that my time isn't "honest". I short-sheeted myself.
I have to find out if the National Marathon will even count that time, that is my Monday task. I may have to race another 10k in 2 weeks.
I'd rather not.
I'm bummed.
I'm going to go drink excessive amounts of milk and sulk.
And make dijon chicken for dinner.
And the Eagles play the Giants tonight. I'm nervous.

Tim ran it in 45:02! This is his longest run since the marathon.

November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Plans
We are a week out and I haven't thought about 1 thing "turkey" related. Part of this is because we are going home this year, the other is that there will only be 5 of us. I don't know how to cook any meal for JUST 5 people. I can barely cook for 2. I know how to cook for a small army: End. Of. Story.

So while I wasn't running last night, I flipped through some November issue magazines, my recipe book and my own head. I had to stop and text my Mom, who happens to be in Maui with my dad on vacation, and ask: "How do we cook Thanksgiving dinner for 5 people?" Her beautiful answer:
"Any way you want...without restrictions."

I love my Mom to bits and pieces!

Here is a rough draft...

  • TBD


  • Mashed Potatoes: I can't screw with tradition. Boil potatoes in salted water with a few cloves of garlic. Strain and remove garlic. Use a masher or ricer and add butter and cream, salt and pepper. The End.
  • Turkey rubbed with homemade sage butter. I have used this since 2005 or 2006. I don't use this recipe for stuffing. Seriously, my arteries hurt when I shove butter under the turkey skin. Don't be surprised when you gravy is green-ish. 
  • Sweet Potatoes: Inspiration required...*update* I am beginning to think that you can't screw with these either. Roast, peel, mash add butter, cream, citrus, maple syrup, place under broiler for crunchy top. 
  • Stuffing: I have only screwed with this tradition lightly, and that was to blend my Mom's recipe with one Tim had grown up with. Saute finely chopped onions, celery and bacon. Add poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Toss with bread cubes you chop and left out over night (away from Mr. Vegas). We have always used white bread, this year I hope to sneak in some whole wheat bread. Add chicken stock as needed. Make sure there is enough to stuff your turkey and a separate casserole. 
  • Crescent rolls...obviously
  • Cranberry Sauce: I have to admit I'm a fan of the can. 

And because you HAVE to eat WHILE you are cooking, I'm thinking this will do the job for breakfast.

November 15, 2010

Monday runs are nice*

*this statement is probably good for this day only.

It was a really nice day today, 60's I think (I wouldn't know, being locked in an office building all day). So I got home and threw on shorts, a thermal long sleeve tee and a light running jacket, said I was sorry to Vegas for not being able to take him, and out the door I went.

6.2 miles round trip down Eisenhower Ave. And my time (drum roll please): 1:01. That means I averaged UNDER a 10 minute mile. I know it was by a hair, but I'll take it. I felt fast again today. I don't know why or how I have been able to push myself, but I'm not arguing.

Okay, now on to a serious night of football. Eagles at Redskins. I can't tell you how odd it is to see McNabb in burgundy and gold on the side of a bus.

Tim boiled some chicken wings that I will happily roll in hot sauce and blue cheese. And to balance that out a salad (arugula, baby spinach and mixed greens) with heirloom tomatoes, Goddess dressing, and some chips, salsa and sour cream. 

Go Birds!

November 14, 2010

Productive Sunday

It was a seriously productive Sunday. I think Sunday's are most productive when you don't shower. It is almost 7pm and laundry is still going. Clean sheets and blankets on the bed. Linen/medicine closet organized. A few things from Whole Foods. This is our new back door rug from Target. Vegas approves.

I made acorn squash, sage and sausage risotto for dinner.
Frizzle 1/2 pound of chicken, sage breakfast sausage with a small onion and a few cloves of minced garlic. You should do this in your risotto pot or other heavy pan. I opted to not use my risotto pot, I don't know why. I should have used it.
Slice/cube your acorn squash. Please, don't try to be fancy. No one will see it. It is NOT worth chopping off a finger. Toss in some rosemary and sage sprigs, a little chopped garlic, EVOO and I added some poultry seasoning. Cover with foil and roast at 350 until it is easy to poke with a fork. I lost track of time. It was a load or two of laundry.
Back to the sausage, onion and garlic. Deglaze with some wine, I used red (Green Truck Petite Syrah. Surprised?). Toss in your arborio rice (used white instead of brown this time) and saute for a few minutes. Add warm/hot stock. I had chicken with some mushroom going (my taste buds are all over the place today). You know the deal: add stock, stir, stir, stir, let stock soak in, stir, add more stock, continue until your rice has just a bit of a bite to it, or no bite...whatever you like.  

Squash finished roasting.
Peeled the skin off and tossed it in the processor with a splash of cream.

Stir the squash into the risotto. I didn't remember and I didn't adjust my stock. It ended up a little stickier that I had hoped but I'm not picky. A little parm cheese and it was good to go.
It was spectacular. I may go back for more in a bit. I'm pretty excited to have it for dinner with Tim tomorrow night. He'll be impressed with the nutritional data* and happy to stir in lots of cheese.
Okay, back to my glass of wine, laundry and maybe round 2 of risotto...I think my pajamas are calling my name. I'm pretty excited to run tomorrow, I'm thinking it is going to be a Vibram run. I added some new stations to Pandora that I am looking forward to. 3 miles-ish.
*I am working on a post about vitamins and minerals. Tim cramps up something fierce while running. He is fully hydrated and loose/warm but we have figured out it is a mineral deficiency. Tums/Rolaids are almost an instance relief so he carries them with him on long runs. They saved him around mile 20 of the marathon the other week. We are trying to work more of these minerals into our diet (magnesium, potassium and sodium). I'll keep you posted.
Thoughts appreciated.