Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A few of my favorite things

This past weekend my sister was in town and on Sunday I dragged her with me on my first trip to the West Seattle Farmer's Market. While the current offerings of local, organic, in season produce are sparse, just being there reminded me of the bounty that is set to come in very soon. It was very exciting to me to pick up my greens, garlic, pickled asparagus and dried pluots at the market. My aim is to eat as close to the source as possible, so that means having my own garden (at my uncle's house), shopping at farmers markets and finally shopping at the co-op. I found a particular "treat" at this weekends market from a vendor called "Fungus and Foliage", she had fiddlehead ferns which excited me greatly since I haven't had those since last year in culinary school. After my sister and I were done at the market, I headed out for a 14 mile run, which felt pretty good and then we went to my uncle's to work in the garden. My lettuce, spinach and carrots are coming on nicely now and it is so exciting!! Before we left, he harvested some rhubarb for me to take home and I looked forward to making a crisp for my sister, possibly as a breakfast treat before she sadly flew away Monday morning.

My not favorite thing about Seattle Restaurants

Over the weekend, with my sister in town we dined out for dinner Fri-Sun. I am a foodie truly, and when I have the opportunity to, I like to explore what is making a splash on the food scene, even if the menu doesn't show a glimmer of hope that I will be able to eat something not special order. The thing I love about nice/gourmet restaurants is that you have a highly skilled, well trained (we sure hope) chef in the back, supported by great sous-chefs. I have a great deal of faith in their skills. Thus, I never feel bad in a restaurant asking for what I want if I don't see something on the menu I can eat. A sign of a good restaurant to me is when they don't even bat an eye when I ask if the chef can prepare me a plate of veggies using olive oil. Half of the time, there are ample veggies to choose from from other dishes and it gives them an opportunity to do something different. Other restaurants, such as Hi-Life, offer several vegetable sides that if I order two, I get plenty of food. Out of the three restaurants we went to over the weekend, 2 failed miserably. Cactus on Alki was the only success and the waitress was even able to offer an option that I would have never been able to decipher on my own- Spa Chicken sans Chicken, double Portabello. It was amazing. The chimchurri and mushrooms were great together. The other two, were fantastically disappointing. Betty, which was just named one of the best new restaurants, brought me 4 sprigs of Broccolini and 2 roasted tomatoes. What are you kidding me? That combined with the mixed green salad, aka lettuce and light dressing, was simply not enough. I think in this case 1) the waitress did a poor job of communicating with the kitchen and 2) they just didn't take time or effort on it. The second restaurant, Coastal Kitchen, I went to more hopeful since they are run by the same parent company as Hi Life. So I expected them to have vegetable sides. My sister and I joked that it would have to be better than 4 sprigs of Broccolini. The waitress was awesome in working with me and totally got it. Apparently however, all of the rice and potatoes are already prepared with cream and butter, and the other veggies (?) were not available to make a nice dish, so what did I get? Broccolini, 6 sprigs and about 4 stalks of asparagus, oh and a tiny pile of Chard. After all that discussion? I mean, that would be fine if maybe I ate like 1300 calories a day or something. But just to be alive at 6 feet tall, I need nearly 2000 calories. If I move, add more. If I run, like I just had -14 miles-, there is another 1400. The waitress came back and checked in and asked how it was, and I tentatively said, it was fine but what I was still hungry. She totally was like, "yeah what was with that?" She went back to the kitchen and had them make me more. Luckily, it is an open kitchen, so you can see what they are doing. And I felt bad to make them do that, but really. The question is: how hard is it to make a vegetable dish? 1) the restaurant makes hand over fist on the dishes 2) they take no more time to prepare than any other dish 3) there are so many vegetarians, vegans and special needs eaters around, you would think by now most restaurants would offer AT least one or two vegetable side dishes. It just disappointed me (and made me light headed from lack of fuel). I just don't think people who don't want to eat dairy/meat/wheat should be doomed to not be able to get more than a salad at most nice restaurants.
My favorite non-running blog

On Saturday, at work we had a surprise visit by City Librarian Deborah Jacobs who is leaving the system to take a position at the Gates Foundation. Needlesstosay, meeting her is a really big deal. She has done amazing things for the SPL and it is what it is because of her. When I got home that evening, all a twitter about the visit, I was checking my blog comments and another inspiration to me, had left a comment on my blog! Karina from Karina's Kitchen blog, which is my favorite gluten free blog, had commented on my blog. Yes, she only stopped by to say that she was glad I enjoyed her recipe BUT STILL, it made me feel nice. So, I decided that I would make a couple more renditions of recipes from her blog and see how I liked them. On Monday morning, I made a tasty rhubarb crisp based on her vegan peach crisp and then on Tuesday night, I made Colcannon. Both were absolutely delicious and I highly recommend. Its been the kind of busy week and so having the opportunity to try out others recipes helps me find the time to do everything I need to and still make amazing meals.


My favorite simple trick

Lately I have been a big fan of making different glazes using strong vinegars or soy sauce. The fiddlehead ferns that I got at the farmers market lent themselves well to this, as they have a very , how shall I put this nicely, "earthy" flavor to them. I parboiled them for a few minutes and set aside. Meanwhile, I minced two cloves of elephant garlic (yes it was a ton of garlic) and sauteed that. Once the garlic as getting all crispy and golden, I threw in the ferns for a quick saute and then added about 1/4 balsamic vinegar. I turned that puppy on high and reduced the balsamic down to a nice glaze. It was unbelievable. The sweetness of the balsamic nicely complimented the earthiness of the ferns, the garlic rounded out the dish, filling in the flavor profile.My favorite drink
There are few people that know me and don't know that I not only love Kombucha but that I brew my own. I have a minor obsession with the stuff. I brew it on a regular basis, but haven't had the opportunity since moving because I have been too darn busy (*gasp*, I swore- I hate that word). I realized as I was brewing that I had yet to share the love AND ease of making this wonder tonic and figured since I was well into it, I should share how I make my favorite thing!

This is how I make my massive batch of Kombucha
Ingredients:
5 gallons distilled water (very important, tap water or filtered tap water is not acceptable)
5 cups of organic cane sugar
12 bags of organic green tea
12 bags of organic black tea
kombucha cultures & starter tea

supplies:
gallon jars
cloth covers for jars (clean towel or old cut up t-shirts work)
rubber bands to secure cloth
warm dark safe place outside of the kitchen for culturing

Directions:
It is really quite simple. Brew tea. That is bring all that water to a boil and turn off the heat. Stir in the sugar until dissolved and place the tea bags in:
Since I have no pot big enough to fit that much water, I do it in 3 separate pots. I do 1.25 gallons in the two smaller ones and 2.5 in the large one. This is when you should know the ratio of water to sugar to tea. For every gallon of water, one cup of sugar and 5 tablespoons (or bags) of tea is required. Since I do a mixture of green and black tea, I usually do this in equal parts. You can use any green or black tea in any combination, but don't use any other type of tea. Herbal especially....

Once you have the tea brewing, let it hang out on the burners (off!!) for about 30 minutes. The longer it sits, the stronger it gets. After the tea is done brewing, remove the tea bags and let the tea cool completely. This usually means overnight for this size batch.Once your tea has cooled, you can get your starter jars out and get ready to divide the tea. I have about 12 gallon jars which could all be utilized, however I brewed enough for about 8, so some were consolidated into a "mother jar". Kombucha cultures are like any fermented food culture, you get one from someone who has been making it as the Kombucha cultures produce a "baby" during the fermenting process. Thus, all of my 3 dozen cultures are all products of one culture that I received from Sean two Christmases ago. I am always happy to share my cultures with others so they can start their own culturing process. The starter jar basically has about 1/5 of the previous fermentation cycle liquid and a culture (or two in my case since I have so many). I put the cooled tea into the jars, filling up to just below where the top of the jar starts to narrow, as the culture will split you want to provide room for this to happen. Never touch a kombucha baby or mother with metal. This will kill them. In my head, I imagine that I could hear them screaming in pain if I did this. After all the jars are done and all the brewed tea appropriated, cover with cloth and secure with a rubber band. Now, put the jars in a warm, dry, dark place to ferment for 2 weeks.
After two weeks, the brew should be well strong enough and it will be time to bottle. I use large amber glass bottles to bottle mine. You pour the brew through a funnel into the bottles and leave the cultures in the jar with enough liquid to start the next batch. Now, here is the secret. I then put the amber bottles on the shelf for 7 days to continue to ferment, this is when you will proceed the nice bubbly-ness that we all know and love about Kombucha. After 7 days, I put mine in the fridge until I am ready to drink. Sometimes I mix mine by the glass with Organic 100% juice (this means its just juice, not even water), such as Concord Grape or Cranberry. Delicious!

This 'buch is for you!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What really matters after a race...

The food of course!

After running such a (mindboggling) distance as I did on Saturday, it is necessary to give the body proper fueling and rest so that you can recover quickly. I say (mindboggling) because there is a part of me that absolutely lacks the ability to comprehend the type of distance that I covered or the type of effort it takes anyone to do something like that. Maybe that's why ultrarunners keep coming back for more, we remember that nice afterglow but at least I don't have an ability to get my mind around it. It was this way last year, I always kept waiting for it to sink in and it never did. In the week after a race, I often times have to remind myself that there is a reason that I am tired, sore, hungry all the time, etc. The body and mind are amazing adaptable things. If I had ever thought about just how far ultras are or try to wrap my head around the distance first, I never would have run my first race. I am simultaneously trying to be smart about resting and get back on to training for WS. Here it is Thursday and I am thinking, ok I should feel all better now. I have to laugh that I even think that, when I look back to my first marathon, less than three years ago, and remember that I took 3 weeks off/easy after that first race. I have come so far in 3 years and that even more so than the distances, boggles my mind but at the same time makes me excited and curious to see what the next several years will hold for me for I have just begun!

Now on to the food...

Part of being in recovery is having a bit more time on my hands since I don't have quite so many workouts to do. Part of racing is also having a lot of time to sit around doing nothing and so I had put together some menu plans for my week while hanging around post race. Monday I cooked 4-5 things before work, including delicious cookies for my coworkers. Tuesday when I came home from work quite hungry, I made 3 separate dishes that were all so delicious!

Eat Dessert First

I got this cookie recipe from off the bag of Gluten-Free Oats that I have and I merely Veganized it. But I have also included the non-veganized substitutes here. There was a part of me that was being cheeky when I made these cookies. I just find there is some irony in going for my first race while at this job, winning and then coming back to work with fresh baked homemade cookies. I think my coworkers don't know what to do with me. But they definitely knew what to do with those cookies. Comments included, "I am really picky about my oatmeal cookies and these rock", "wow this is the best cookie I have ever had", "amazing that a cookie can be crumbly and so smooth at the same time" "Martha Stewart watch out". I had been a bit worried that the texture would throw some of them off since they are pretty crumbly (eat with two hands and a napkin), but figured the flavor would hold them up and it did.

Monster cookies

Ingredients:
1/4 cup earth balance shortening or butter, room temp
3/4 cup evaporated cane juice
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 egg equivalent for egg replacer or 2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
3 cups Gluten Free Rolled Oats (normal oats will work for normal people)
6 oz of Vegan chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Beat sugar, brown sugar and shortening until creamy. Add egg replacer (prepared), vanilla, baking soda and mix well. Add peanut butter and mix. Stir in oats, chocolate chips and (optional) 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped-I didn't do this but feel free! Place large spoonfuls of dough on parchment paper covered baking sheet (I made mine with a 1/2 cup scoop) about 2 inches apart and press down on top with scoop to reduce thickness. I actually would recommend no more than 1/4 cup to reduce some of the fally-apartness. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly brown around edges. Then try not to eat them all in one sitting...


What a Jerk!

Jerk Portobello mushrooms that is. I got this recipe from Vegan Planet which is my current Veganomicon, if you know what I mean. I just can't get enough of it! While the cookies were cooling, after I had already made my salad mix for the week and homemade Tarragon-Dijon dressing, I put together my lunch which included Jerk Portobello mushrooms with Green Apple Salsa over garlic rice with a side of sauteed red pepper broccoli. Absolutely delicious!

I'm really a nice mushroom
Ingredients:
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
4 large portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed.
1/4 cup evoo

Directions:
1. Mix together in a shallow bowl the brown sugar through the nutmeg. Set aside.
2. Coat the mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then coat them evenly with the spice mixture. Rubbing them to make sure they are thoroughly covered. Heat the remaining olive oil i a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Serve hot. Top with Green Apple Salsa.

Green Apple Salsa
Ingredients:
2 large Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 cup minced scallions
Juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cut minced fresh mint leaves

Directions:
1. Place the apples in a medium sized bowl after chopping. Add the jalapenos, scallions, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Just before serving, stir in the mint. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve.




Around the world in 80 bites

After a long day at work on Tuesday, all I wanted was to come home and eat some delicious food. While most peoples idea of relaxing may not be creating three separate dishes and cooking for an hour after work, it is very meditational and rewarding to me. I made three dishes that spanned the world of taste: Curried Sweet Potatoes and Peas, West Coast Chili and Soy Glazed Green Beans. Fabulous just fabulous.

Curried Sweet Potatoes and Green Peas
Ingredients:
peanut oil
1 small yellow or red onion, minced
1 large sweet potato, baked until tender, peeled and diced
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 garlic clove, minced
curry powder
fresh cumin
cayenne
salt

Directions:
Heat 1 tbsp peanut oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook until soft 5 mins. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. I didn't put specific amounts on the spices because they aren't exactly measure. Cayenne should be only a dash though. I believe I might have added a dash of Garam Masala as well.

Soy Glazed Green beans
Ingredients:
1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons peanut oil
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup (or more-enough to cover) Wheat Free Soy Sauce

Directions:
1. Lightly steam the green beans or parboil them until just tender. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until golden. I find it helps to tilt the pan and pool the oil in the edge (carefully!) so the garlic can be fully submerged. Add the green beans and saute for a minute or three to make sure they are heated throughout and fully tossed with the garlic. Pour in the Soy Sauce and crank up the heat to high. It should vigorously boil. You are reducing the soy sauce down to a glaze, so let it boil like this until it is reduced and the green beans are glazed (there will be maybe 2 tbsps of liquid in the pan).

West Coast Chili (another great recipe from Vegan Planet)
Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 med yellow onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ripe plum tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 cups water
2 15 ounce cans cooked kidney beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper
2 ripe avocadoes, peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 cup pitted and slice black olives

Directions:
1. Heat evoo in large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, and garlic. Cover and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, chili powder, oregano, wine, water,beans, salt and pepper. Simmer until flavors are blended and the desired consistency is achieved, about 30 minutes.
2. Serve hot, topped with avocados and olives.



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Leona Divide 50 mile race report

I have been shying away from writing this race report, I keep thinking that I should sit down and get it all out, but there has been something stopping me. I feel like I don't want to write it down, because I am not ready to let go of some of the excitement and enjoyment that I experienced this weekend at Leona Divide 50 mile. I am not ready to (or perhaps haven't even started to) revel in the experience.

I have been doing a great deal of thinking about my running and my direction therein recently and finally realized that I like to run. I know you are thinking, well duh!! But what I mean is, I like to run runnable courses, I like to see how fast I can run over long long distances. If you look at last year, all of my races were "my kind of races". Lots of flat, some cement, and the not flat was very runnable, wide dirt fireroads and single track. I recently realized that I want to focus on two main things for the next 4-5 years. First, I want to try and qualify for the 2012 Olympics in the marathon. Second, I would like to drop my 100k time down into the 7:40s. And meanwhile, I want to intermittently run some great trail races. With that decision in my head, I really look forward to the training I am going to get to do for that with help of my new (hopefully) coach, Howard Nippert. It is a pretty big step for me to take on a coach because I have been self-taught my whole marathon/ultra career but I know that my own knowledge and research can only take me so far. Sometimes the smartest thing to do is get an expert on the job. Howard, is definitely that. And he is my teammate on the 100k team and really understands where I am coming from.

All of that exciting stuff was bouncing around in my head as I traveled down to California on Friday. I landed in LAX, drove up to Valencia to the Whole Foods which I had staked out, bought all my food needs for pre & post race and then drove onward to Palmdale where I was staying the night. By the time I arrived it was about noon and I felt like crap. I was exhausted, I had a really bad cramp in my leg from the flying and driving, I was dehydrated and I was feeling no confidence in my taper. I ate my lunch: salad, brown rice and veggies with peanut butter and decided a nap was a good idea. I needed to get a run in to shake my legs out, but I was hoping a nap would revive me first. I took a 2 hour snooze and woke up mentally a bit fresher (I did get up a 4:40am that morning) and headed out for a run. It was hot, really really hot. In the 80s and that worried me, since I felt already behind on my drinking and didn't want the next day to be a suffer fest at a higher altitude. I asked the guy at the desk for ideas of where to run, but he had no real ideas so I just headed out on the barren and boring town streets. It was the worst run ever. After about a mile, I thought I was going to die, my legs just plodded along and I got more and more dehydrated. By the time I got back to the hotel room, I was not encouraged at all. I was worried, but also not too anxious since I know that my body does have the tendency to rise to the occasion when called upon. But 50 miles is a long ways...

I ate my dinner and headed to bed early, and had a fitful night of sleep. My alarm went off at 3:30 and I got up ate my pb toast and banana and went back to bed for another hour. When the alarm finally went off, I got up dressed and grabbed my bags and headed out the door. The morning air was cool and I was very pleasantly surprised. It was probably mid 40s which is a great racing temp for me. I figured if I could get a couple of hours that weren't blazing, I might be able to hang on for longer. I made my way to the start in the dark, I have gotten so use to it being light before 6 being in the north that I was confused and for a moment thought, wait....should I have brought a headlamp?? I parked, got my number and race goodies (a nice blanket with Leona Divide emblem on it) and went back to hang out in my car and check my gear. I was enthused by what I could see of the terrain. It reminded me distinctly of the Headlands, the nice long wide hills, which go on forever in every direction but are very runnable. Finally I got out of the car, strapped on my "Krissy" Nathan pack, grabbed my water bottles (2) and walked down towards the bridge for the start. It was funny to see all the California people all bundled up in coats, hats and gloves. I was basking in the fortunate weather since it had been snowing in Seattle on Friday! I was wearing my favorite Craft shorts, my SRC jersey, my new pink Defeet arm warmers, headband, Rudy Project sunglasses and of course, my fabulous Inov-8s, the newest 295s which I love.

I lined up in front, feeling a deep sense of calm and readiness inside. Krissy had told me to use her CR splits as an indicator of where I should be when and despite the 9,000 feet of climbing ahead of me, the potential for a repeat of the day before and some lingering calf pain, I wasn't worried at all. With a clang of a hammer on a saw blade, we were off. I headed out with the lead pack of guys but felt I was being incredibly moderate as we headed up and up and up a nice long fire road. I felt comfortable and in my element. Though we were running uphill for a really long time, I didn't feel like I was pushing myself too hard or straining. If anything, say for instance if this was a 50k, probably could have pushed the first 8 miles 15-20 secs faster. But I was enjoying myself and the field spread out pretty quickly. We wrapped around and around through the hills as the sun came up. It was beautiful and I simply got lost in the moment. I didn't have to think or worry or plan. I just ran and ran with a levity of spirit that had visited upon me once before at Tahoe, last year. Maybe its just something about the 50 mile trail races and me?


The elevation & aid station map

I came through the first aid station at mile 8.3 at 1 hour flat. Ok, so I was moving but definitely still keeping myself reined in. I didn't even stop at the first aid station and headed across the road and up more very runnable hills. For this race, I had decided to carry my ipod shuffle with me for extra added boost along the way, but knew that I could only employ it at the right moment. I couldn't simply just put it on. So I waited. I came into the second aid station at 1:49 and grabbed my first Clif Shot Bloks and headed right back out. There were a couple of guys that I could see on the trail ahead of me and as I ran up the hill, I passed a few of them that I would not see again. I was still within the top 15 range and could see 2-3 more guys on the trail ahead of me as we snaked along, finally on single track. We got on the PCT and there was the sign that Krissy had told me about with the previous years winners on it! It gave me a boost to see Krissy's name up there!

The weather was holding, still very mild temperatures with some clouds and lots of wind. It really reminded me more and more of the Headlands and I just floated along feeling pleased with myself and with my ability to run. I came into the mile 20.3 aid station, had them fill my waterbottles with water and I dropped a Nuun tablet in each. I was well under 3 hrs but had decided to ignore my splits and just run. From 20.3 you head up some steeper stuff, which was a bit slower but I was still (to my pleasant surprise) able to power up it easily. The wind was blowing pretty tough at this point and there were gusts so strong that I was worried I was going to be like one of the nannies in Mary Poppins and go blowing up the street backwards in the wind. I made it to the top and passed another 2 guys on the way, including one who in the first few miles had run past me working way too hard for that early in the race and was now suffering for it. The next time I would see him again, he would be nearly 4 miles behind me.

After reaching the top, I got to enjoy a nice rolling downhill to the mile 24.5 aid station, where I once again breezed through and headed down more rollers to the mile 28 aid station. In my head, I had thought that the biggest hill had already passed. That said, I also knew at this point that any hill I was running down, I was running back up at some point since from 24.5 back to 42.6 is an out and back. I had been taking my calories, taking a gel or shot blok about every 45-50 mins. At 3 hrs I took my pills (caffeine, S caps and aspirin) and felt a lovely little boost. The chia was doing its magic and I felt good energy and hydration. I kept drinking to stay ahead but was feeling just right. As I was descending to 28, I passed a few more fellows and then had a guy run up on me, as I strongly descended the hill. "Krissy is that you?" I had to laugh, it is a compliment yes to be mistaken for such a great runner as Krissy, but at the same time, last time I checked Krissy hadn't hit a growth spurt and gained 6 inches in height. But it is somewhat understandable. I chatted with the guy for a bit, asked him if he wanted to pass, which he said no to and we made our way down to the mile 28 aid station. I topped up my bottles and off I went.

I crossed another road and headed uphill, much steeper than before. But I was still running it. By now I had been running for over 4 hours, I can't remember precisely but I decided to pull out my splits card to see if I was anywhere near what I had anticipated. I saw that I had gone through the #5 aid station still ahead of pace, but as I glanced at my watch, thought there was no way I was going to be able to reach the next aid station by the split I had recorded. I had 4:36 written down for aid station #6 and it was 4:25 and I could still see the aid station (albeit way below after lots of switchbacks). I had a moment of where did all that time go? It was not possible that I had lost 10-12 mins off pace on a downhill. I was still moving up the hill sub 10s as well. I just shook my head, shrugged my shoulders and said, "do work, son", resigning myself to just focusing on the running instead of wasting time calculating splits. I was feeling a bit lower energy as I power hiked up the steep hill and consumed a gel and some more Nuun. The sun was shining now and I was happy to have my sunglasses, but also to have my sleeves since the wind continued to blow.

The time had come, I needed to release the secret weapon. On Thursday, I had come upon one of my old running mixes on CD and had gotten really hyped listening to it. I had changed my shuffle mix to songs that I couldn't help but move too. As I hiked, spying the top of the hill and another bobbing head ahead of me, I put my headphones on and hit play. I nearly shrieked and laughed when the first song came on and was also the first song on the aforementioned CD. It is a great motivator and my pace suddenly quickened. I had it to the top. I would find out later that THAT was the hardest climb and that my split on my card was suppose to be a 50 something not a 30 something. I arrived at mile 32 aid station where it was a full on luau. Everyone was in grass skirts and coconut bras. "Here comes Devon" somebody yelled and I smiled and powered through the aid station, "there goes Devon", somebody said as I waved and smiled and said, "I'll be back soon!".

Out to 35.5 was interesting terrain for that point in the race. It was really rolly, almost mountain biker appealing rolly and I was feeling a bit tired, but still good. I ate more gels and played cat and mouse with the guy in front of me. I kept taking my SCaps every hour and drinking my Nuun since I could feel myself getting nice and salty. The sun was brilliant but the temp was only about 60. I saw only 3 guys coming back from the aid station as I ran. I rounded a bend and could see the aid station through the trees. I caught up to the guy in front of me and he said, "man you destroyed that hill!". That was the nicest thing anyone could say because I have had waining confidence in my ability as an uphiller. We caught another guy who had stopped for a pee and all went into the aid station together. The guys at the aid station filled my bottles with water and again I dropped in my Nuun which I was carrying with me in my "Krissy" pack, aka a hydration pack without the hydration pack. Essentially it is like a singlet with pockets on the front for gels, nuun, ginger, etc.

I headed back out, the timer telling me I was in 5th overall. Nice!!! And I was going to finally have the opportunity to see where the next woman back was. I now ran strong, enthused by the turn around and feeling like I was heading for home. 14.5 away from home, but home nonetheless. The front of the field was very sparse. I saw a few of the guys I had passed earlier coming along, but each one still fading away. At long last, I saw the next woman. She was about 1.5 miles behind me but not looking too bad. I decided to not give it any chances, especially since I knew there was one last hill back up from 42 before I would get more downhills. I enjoyed the current downhill alot though. I stopped at the Luau aid station and ate some Clif Shot Bloks and oranges, feeling a bit in need of energy. I took off, still jamming to the beats in my headphones. I greeted every person I passed who was coming up the trail and did my best to not collide with anyone on the corners.

I hit the bottom of the hill, crossed the road and hooting and hollering ran into the mile 42 aid station. They filled my bottles one last time, dropped another Nuun and headed back up the hill that I had enjoyed so much on the way down. It was not nearly as steep as the hill going the other direction out of the 28/42 aid station, but I was more tired. It was a runnable grade but I could only intermittently run and power walk. I could see the top of the hill and knew that just beyond that was my final aid station and then beautiful, wide wonderful fireroad down to the finish. I pushed and pushed up the hill, calling on energy I didn't have. I had taken my second round of caffeine and aspirin which helped a bit but not much. I could see the guy who had lauded me for my uphill at the 35 aid station about 400 meters behind me and I pressed on. I finally came to the top and felt so relieved, even though I could see the aid station from a distance, I noticed there was a little rise up out of the aid station. Darn it!

I came screeching in to the aid station, glanced at my watch 7:13 ish. And mentally tried to figure out if I was anywhere even remotely near Krissy's 7:42 Course Record. I couldn't do math and I stood there waiting for one of the aid station volunteers (bless them) to open a pack of Clif Shot Bloks for me. He couldn't get it open and I waited patiently, finally he got a knife and plopped them down in my hand. I should have just taken the pack and ran, but at that point in a race dexterity is not there to open those things. I ran out of the aid station at 7:15 and headed along the fireroad. I managed the little uphill and pressed my legs to give me a little more on the downhill. But I had to stop. And take a pee. I did a quick glance around and hoped no one would come down the road and did my business. About 4 water bottles fun of liquid later, I was off and running again. Triumphant beautiful songs played in my headphones and I got choked up. I looked at my distance on my Garmin GPS and it said I had about 2 miles to go. Really? Damn. Then I got choked up even more since I was ready to be done. I also wondering where I had lost that damn 20 minutes since I had been running strong consistent mid 9 splits for the race. Suddenly, I recognized the turn in the path and through the trees I could see the parking lot. Damn! I broke into a sprint and turned off my music, I wanted to hear the cheering as I came into the finish. I ran down off the path and around to the back of the main building and across the finish line. Pumping my fists and so happy. 5th place overall, 1st woman, 7:44! Had I known, had I known. Maybe I wouldn't have waited so long for the shot bloks, maybe I wouldn't have stopped for a pee. Maybe I wouldn't have tried to meter out my energy for the "last two miles". But really, forget maybe! I ran a near flawless race. I felt great nearly the whole way, mentally I was in a state of bliss, nutritionally I was within a good range (no bonks!), and my hill running was great. I felt great!

The RD handed me my finishers shirt, award and dirty girls gaiters which I had one in a raffle. I sat down on the stairs by the finish line and just beamed. The guy who complimented me came in a few minutes later and said, shaking my hand, "you really took off!" I was just so pleased with the experience, the whole journey I just wanted to stay in the moment as long as I could. I headed back to my car and back to the hotel, where my favorite post-run meal was stashed in my fridge: a Whole Foods burrito (yes with a whole wheat tortilla-which I am still paying for now, but is so worth it), kombucha and berries. I took my ice bath, packed my stuff and anticipated going home the next morning.

I made it home safe on Sunday, even grabbing the last seat out of sheer luck on an earlier flight. My legs felt great and for the first time in a while didn't do alot of post race swelling. Once back in Seattle, I headed to Flying Apron for a cupcake. I hadn't had a cupcake in a really really (talking years) long time, especially finding out about my gluten intolerance. But I wanted one to celebrate and had been thinking about cupcakes since Alison and I went to Cupcake Royale the week before. I dove into the chocolate cupcake and it was perfect. Sweet, but not too sweet. Perfect texture and all while still being vegan, gluten free and alternatively sweetened. I spent the afternoon in my & my uncles organic vegetable garden turning over soil, mulching and generally "giving my legs a rest" haha. We went to thai food for dinner which is a close second to the post race burrito. It was a great weekend and I didn't want it to end. Or more, I didn't want to lose that feeling I had gotten during the race. I just was lovely, so very lovely.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

School Days

Remember back in elementary school when you were on the playground and playing some game at recess and you got to do a "do-over". Some days, like today, you wish you could just rewind a few hours and have a "do-over" of the day and somehow make it better. Alas, we cannot, but it is one of those days where nothing goes right (every driver tries to run you over, what can go wrong does) and you just feel are snarky inside or maybe its hurumph. Either way, the safest place seems like it would be under the covers in bed. Whats more ironic, is that its not a bad mood or funk per se, its just one of those days when the world and I seem to be having a disagreement. But, at least the food is still good.

The following two recipes are from this morning and last night. I think I need to remind everyone again that these recipes usually have a little wiggle room, so when I say one medium tomato, my view of that tomato is probably different from yours. And as I have said, especially with baking, for the most part I am being a bit of a mad scientist and not measuring precisely. Especially since I am building recipes from scratch with non-traditional ingredients, often it is a process of adding flours/ingredients 1 tbsp at a time. With original baking recipes, they are always works in progress. One of the most important things I want to impress upon my readers is a healthy bit of self-trust in the kitchen. Alot of recipes in books are made just a bit off on purpose. I am not doing that, but I am also (usually) cooking to my own palette. So if you want to up an ingredient or spice or change something up, go for it. Think something should be on medium high instead of medium low, great (especially since every oven cooks differently, which is why I try to give you other cues about what to look for) The recipes I put on here are never meant to be created ONLY as they are written. In fact, most recipes I post are intentionally flexible so that you can take 1 recipe and make 15-20 close alternatives out of them. And it should be noted that especially in baking, I blog gluten free....so if you choose to use regular flour, then the results will absolutely be different, especially since gluten free flours have distinct flours of their own, they often need less added stuff to make them great. Ok, enough with the chefs notes, as I said, its one of those days.

Slawsa salad

This is not quite a salsa, not quite a slaw, somewhat a salad.

Ingredients:
1 ripe mango, cut into small chunks
1/2 large onion, diced
1 small jalapeno, minced (less for less heat, more for more heat)
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1 small head of red cabbage, grated/thinly sliced
cilantro, couple of tbsp, minced
1 avocado, chopped
1 lemon
2-3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
salt and pepper

Directions:
Add all chopped ingredients together and give a good stir (don't put the avo in if you are not serving immediately). Juice the lemon over the top being careful not to get any seeds in the bowl. Add the vinegars slowly, adding only enough that the mixture is lightly dressed, salt and pepper to taste. I recommend letting this sit in the fridge (sans avocado!) for a while so the flavors can co-mingle like salsa does and then taking out just before serving.

Portabello Mushrooms stuffed with Garlic Peri-Peri Potatoes and fried leeks



This recipe was inspired by a recipe in Vegan Planet, my latest cookbook purchase. It is awesome!

Ingredients:
2 cups Garlic Peri-Peri mashed potatoes (prepare mash potatoes as you usually do/like and add 1 tbsp-2tbsp Peri-peri spice rub seasoning and 2 tbsp Garlic Sauce)

4 portabello mushroom caps, gills removed and cleaned

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp wheat free tamari

1 large leek, white parts only, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.

We all like our mashers differently which is why I said to prepare them that way. I make mine with a little bit of almond milk and salt and pepper,thats it. Then add the peri-peri and garlic sauce.Set aside.

Meanwhile,heat 1 tbsp olive oil in pan over medium heat. Place mushrooms, cut side up in the pan and let sear for about a minute or two. Flip them, add the tamari and let cook another min- 2 mins. You really are just giving it a nice quick sear and don't have to worry about cooking it long.

Place in a baking pan, cut side up. Scoop mash potatoes into each one and tap down flat. Drizzle 1 tbsp of olive oil over top. Put in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes until heated through. Depending on how long you leave them out, you may need more time. I cooked to this point and then 30 minutes later put them in the oven, so they needed more time.

In the same skillet, cleaned (of course). Heat the last tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat and saute the leeks for 5 minutes/ until they are nice and golden brown. Transfer them out of the skillet and let drain on a paper towel.

To plate, place the portabello stack on a serving dish and top with the leeks!

For my meal, I had the portabello potato stack, the slawsa salad and leftover All that Beans (from my previous post). My mom was over for dinner and she approved :)




Another Sesame Street Song: Peanut Butter and Jelly

I had the craziest idea on my run to make a pb& j pocket for breakfast. It was awesome!

Ingredients:
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 cup frozen berries
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

gluten free dough w/ oats.(I made a crust like my blueberry crisp, but rolled the oats in it. The amounts were very inexact.) 3/4 cup mix of Pamela's Bread mix and sweet sorghum flour; 1/4 cup water, 1 tbsp peanut oil, dash of salt, 1/4 cup raw gluten free oats. Mix it all together until rollable. Basically you are making a pie/pizza crust, it should be pliable and workable, but not over wet. It definitely shouldn't stick to the rolling pin. My advice? Play with it and you will get the feel for it. But don't over knead it either.



Directions:
Make like a calzone! Mix berries, vanilla and maple. On the rolled dough, on half, scoop pb and then the berries on top. Fold over and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.







Monday, April 14, 2008

Sunshine, good food and friends

What could be better than sunshine, good food and friends. Well, more than one day of freak 80 degree weather and brilliant sunshine would be a nice start but all in all, the one day was at least a hopeful glimmer of what is to come. On Saturday, I got out for my last "long" run before Leona next Saturday, a paltry 14 miles but it was a great way to enjoy the afternoon sun. I ran down along Alki which had backed up traffic in both directions! Crazy. I really enjoyed running in my SRC singlet and shorts. It was so nice out. But as I said, too good to be true. Sunday was rainy again BUT Alison did come up to spend the day and we ran, ate huge bowls of Pho, massage, shopped and cupcakes at Cupcake Royale (well, not for me since they don't have Gluten Free or Vegan) but I just love the idea.... Last week was a good taper week though, I ran 66 miles and am feeling good. I probably could have run less, but I am still training for WS even as I taper for Leona. Have to keep my eye on the prize!

Food ramblings

This weekend was really awesome for me in the kitchen. Everything turned out delicious and dare I say, blog-worthy?

Not Really a Bette Midler Blue Berry Pie

Sorry the title of this breakfast is kind of a vague childhood reference that even if I were to explain probably would leave you just as baffled, so I will skip it all together and just say this creation is fabulous. I got the idea for these after going to Flying Apron again and really getting into their Berry Oat Wondies. But a woman can only pay $4.00 so long before she decides to try and make it herself!

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup Sweet Sorghum Flour
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon oil
pinch or dash of salt

1 1/2 cups frozen berries (mixed)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cup raw oats
1 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup
dash of sorghum flour and salt

Preheat oven to 350.Combine flour, water, oil and salt to make dough. Dough should be not to wet, not to dry. Add a bit of flour or water to produce the right consistency. You should know what dough feels like, which is why the ratios of dough to water aren't exact. You keep adding a little of each until its right. It should be able to roll without sticking to the rolling pin or cracking. Roll dough out to about 1/4 inch thick and put into a 9x9 pyrex dish or baking pan, that you have greased. I did a bit of creative piecing together, so don't worry as long as it gets in there pretty thin and pressed together to make one piece.

In another bowl, mix berries, vanilla and syrup. Do not thaw the berries. Mix to combine. Pour mixture over the crust.

Mix together oats, remaining syrup and a dash of flour and salt. Pour this mixture over top of the berries and press into the berries a bit.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is baked through and the oats on top are a little golden.



This treat can be enjoyed straight out of the oven (and straight out of the baking pan! careful not to burn yourself!) or cold. It is a healthy breakfast or a delicious dessert. They are crumbly and stay together-y, sweet and delicious. The recipe I made above makes 5 servings, each 250 calories

When life gives you leftover soup, make sauce

In my previous post, I discussed this amazing Saffron, Sweet Potato, Roast Garlic Soup that I made. After running on Saturday afternoon, I came home inspired by the idea of taking my soup and reducing it down and making it in to a delicious sauce to put over quinoa and mixed beans. I put about a cup of soup in a pan over high heat and reduced it down to under 1/2 cup. This super concentrates the flavor and makes a nice thick smothering sauce for the quinoa and beans I cooked up. I put it with a side of roast veggies and within no time, had a delicious meal using leftovers done in a new way!

All that and not a can of beans

All day yesterday while we were out and abouting, I had beans cooking away in my slow cooker. In the morning I had put kidney, pinto and black beans (which I had soaked overnight) into the slow cooker, covered with water just above the beans, tossed in some Kombu (seaweed) and let her rip. I put them on High, per the recommendation of several slow cooker cookbooks, which said that would take 8-12 hours. We were gone for longer, so my beans were past being cooked, plump, together and firm. But, it didn't really bother me since my plan had been to make my own refried beans.

My dinner became as the recipe suggests, All that and not a can of beans with a side of Balsamic Glazed Carrots, Kale and Brussel Sprouts.

Refried Beans Ingredients:
3 cups cooked beans, kombu removed
1 tbsp leftover chipotle paste from Friday's recipe
2 tbsp oil
1 small onion, minced
2 tsp fresh ground cumin
salt and fresh pepper
2-3 tsp peri-peri seasoning (optional)

Directions:
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sautee onions until soft about 5 mins. Add cumin, stir to combine. Add remaining ingredients and mash the beans as you stir. Cook 7-10 mins and adjust seasoning, in my case, add more peri-peri.

This will produce more beans than you know what to do with. So therefore, I created:

Basic Bean and Guac Fold up

Ingredients (for 1):
1 rice tortilla
homemade guacamole
3/4 cup All that Beans

Yes, this is basically a bean and guac burrito. I understand that, but what you should understand is that with Gluten intolerance, the burrito is a novelty. Which is why this is a fold up, not a roll up. Non-gluten tortillas other than corn (which I try and stay away from) don't roll so well. I warmed this tortilla, scooped in the beans and guac and folded in half like a sarnie (sammich). It was delicious and didn't need anything else, though you are welcome to add whatever your heart desires! Maybe even some Life gives you soup sauce (from above)!


Balsamic veggies:

Ingredients:
2 large carrots
1/2 large bunch of kale
5-6 large brussel sprouts
1 tbsp oil (I used peanut)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp tamari
dash of cayenne

Instructions:

Parboil carrots, kale and brussels in boiling salted water, not together because they cook at different speeds, until carrots soften slightly and kale is bright green.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add veggies and remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer and then reduce to medium low (on my stove medium is quite hot) and cook about 10 minutes until liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally.

Tagged, again!

I got tagged by Nuun/Inov-8 teammate and blogger extraordinaire Scott Dunlap. Here's his message:

You've been tagged! Time to write a six word memoir. The rules are:

1) Write your own six word memoir
2) Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you want
3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere
4) Tag at least five more blogs with links
5) Leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

Here is is (only 5 words):
There are no ordinary moments.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Call yourself a Fast Foodie

"Eat Food. Not to much. Mostly Plants." That is Michael Pollen refrain in his latest book In Defense of Food. I love this book because it is one of the first "nutrition", and I use that word very lightly and somewhat ironically in this case, that doesn't use reductionist nutritionism and very simply, sums up all the things I have been touting in my own lifestyle and blog.

I realized as I was reading this book, underlining practically everything (bad librarian, thankfully I bought this book...) that I had never really explicitly defined myself or my food philosophy (another irony pointed out in Michael Pollens book is the age of Nutritionism- the more we know about nutrients and the health of food, the unhealthier AND unhappier we get). I have started to call myself a "special needs eater" because it is much easier than listing the things that make up my diet. Who wants to say to people, I am a gluten/soy/corn free vegan, and I don't eat processed foods or refined sugars (as long as I can avoid them) and eat locally and organically? That is too complicated, too exclusionary and frankly gives a exclusionist or avoidance air that is typical of people with "food" (and I kind of smirk and cringe using that term now) issues. The fact of the matter is the only reason I have to define myself that way is because of the modern concept of what food is. The reality of the situation is, the things I "avoid" I don't recognize as food. Nor does Michael Pollen. And do note that the vegan part of that is ONE of eating models that fits into my personal philosophy about eating. So what is my food philosophy? What have I been touting all along? I came up with a better summation: I am a Whole Foodist (not to be confused with Whole Foods(Paycheck) the store which is just as big of perpetrator in the non-food industry as any grocery store). I am a Traditionalist.

When I was in culinary school, there were two parts of my education: the nutritional side and the culinary side. What we didn't do, as is the current way of nutritional science is try to remove the nutrients & the benefits and focus on them or target them. We learned nutrition in the context of the diet, which is frankly not done regularly in Western thinking. For instance, we would learn about Micronutrients and then go in the kitchen and cook *gasp* with whole foods- fruits, vegetables, alternative grains, seeds, nuts, meat*, fish*, dairy*, booster foods (seaweed, maca, herbs, spice, etc) and oils (NOT vegetable canola oil, no no no not ever bad bad bad). I put * by meat, fish and dairy because I am talking about specific circumstance/non-processing-i.e. free range, organic, grassfed or wild, non-hormone, natural products, not just your everyday available. Think about it this way. Eating is a process of taking in the earth and the sun, so you want that process to be as close to natural as possible. Therefore everything in the food chain must be healthy from the soil itself to the animal or plant that is living off of that (which is why I eat local and organic!!).

One of the most important thing that Michael Pollen reminds us of in his book and I have been cooking/living by is that as much as reductionist science can isolate nutrients that are healthy and positive for us, they can not tell us how those nutrients work together in a particular food (and now I use the word food to define ONLY the bold items above-not store food) to make it do what it does. Alot of what is common in the Western Diet (aka SAD-Standard American Diet) is to fixate on a particular nutrient and put it in very thing. Look at soy, and now Omega 3. It is popping up all over the place! Americans are looking for a magic bullet, but the fact of the matter is they need a new paradigm. Actually an old one: Eat Food. When you look at traditional cultures from around the world they have lived and thrived on a variety of diets. Some eat meat, some fish, some plants, some dairy, but the common thread is- it is all food. Study Weston A Price's work or even take a look at any traditional cooking and you will see it.

To me that is why I feel so confident in the kitchen and the meals that I produce. I know they are healthy and good for my body because I use real food. Check out my kitchen and you won't see much/if any "store food", that is, stuff from the middle aisle- pseudo food stuffs that have been processed, packaged, refined and refortified and then stuck with a label full of healthy claims. Anything I get from the middle of the aisle comes from whole foods. Which is why the first thing I tell people when they want to reform their eating and undo the damages, is to read labels. I don't even give people specific things to avoid or not worry about. I think reading a label will make you put down the product as soon as you stop recognizing the ingredients as food. For instance, I look at the peanut & almond butters that I buy: ingredients: the nut. Period. That's it. I look at some other brands and there is palm oil and other weird things....

I believe in Eating for Health, holistic nutrition which doesn't remove the nutrition from the context of the mysteries of the foods that provide it. In my kitchen, I let the food speak for itself and bringing back another of the lost tenants of the Age of Nutritionism (and do note that "ism" defines a set of beliefs, like a religion-which is very different from nutrition), the enjoyment of eating. In Western culture, we eat less food (as I define it), became less healthy and enjoy the act of eating less (or moreso, we feel more guilty about it). I love to eat and I find once I began eating the Whole Foodist way that one of the things that was returned to me (albeit it look the longest to return) was the ability to enjoy food guilt free (as you will note this is something I still struggled with at the beginning of the year). But it is freaking fabulous to turn all the tenants of the Western Diet on its head. I eat food, not to much, am way more healthy and enjoy the hell out of myself. I think this self-defining is important because to again list myself as I am a gluten/soy/corn free vegan, and I don't eat processed foods or refined sugars (as long as I can avoid them) and eat locally and organically, because that doesn't sum it up. Because really, my food philosophy allows me to be vegan or non-vegan (I really could eat that wild boar if I so desired) and not compromise any of my own tenants. I simply choose right now to be vegan and partially because the type of meat I described as food is hard to come by and expensive and doesn't work with my lifestyle. There is infinite flexibility in Whole Foodism. Once you break the chains that the Western Diet has on your body (its like crack, your body is addicted to something that is not good for you), you will be reunited with the pleasures of food. And it is so great! And it is very liberating. Most "health conscious" Americans live in a state of bafflement and anxiety about what they should eat, but not me because nothing I have said requires remembering a complex set of acceptable and not acceptable foods. Here are the things that I and Michael Pollen both tout:

--Eat Food (fruits, vegetables, alternative grains, seeds, nuts, meat*, fish*, dairy*, booster foods (seaweed, maca, herbs, spice, etc) and oils)

--Read Labels. Avoid processed and refined and GMO products (sugars, flours, corn, soy). Avoid it if you can't pronounce it or recognize it, including high fructose corn syrup.

--Enjoy local and organic plants mostly. Stay to the outside of the grocery store. Go to a farmer market.

--Ignore health claims and avoid the products that make them.

--Indulge in amazing culinary delights made by hand from Food ingredients. Real food takes time, cooking connects you to your food.

--Eat mostly plants, especially leaves (not seeds-wheat, corn, soy).

--We don't NEED meat, but a little won't hurt you just remember as Michael Pollen says, "you are what you eat eats too.

--Eat diversely: local, in season, from healthy soil.

--Enjoy eating, take your time with it. We should be spending more time and money and energy on food and cooking than less. It is THE most important thing we do.

--And finally, one thing that I have shared with the people that I have cooked for and helped nutritionally is: don't look for a magic bullet (Michael Pollen also says this). You won't lose 30 pounds in 30 days or be able to eat bacon wrapped steaks slathered in cheese for every meal, but in the long run (and that is all that matters), every fiber of your being will be healthier. You are what you eat!

That is the Whole Foodist way, or even better, the Fast Foodie way. I would take the time to read Michael Pollen's book, it may be the only "nutrition" (ha!) book you ever read again.

More Fast Foodie Originals

In the vein, I was talking about above, I have been looking for a homemade counterpart to breakfast cereal. While I have been eating a certified GF granola for a while which I can get behind, I still prefer homemade. Yesterday I made a veritable mashup of things to get the combination of grains, nuts and seeds I like at breakfast and so was born:

Nutty Don't Call me Oatmeal

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cup (yield from one cup uncooked) brown rice-cooked
3/4 cup raw oats (do not cook!)
1/2 cup raw trail mix blend (nuts, seeds, unsweetened dried fruits)- your choice. Mine had dried cherries, goji berries, almonds, seeds, dried cranberries.
2 teaspoons maca
1/2 teaspoon stevia
dash of pumpkin pie spices

Directions:
When the rice is still warm but not cooking (off the heat), stir in the oats to combine. Add trail mix and other ingredients. Let cook and store in a airtight container.

To serve, scoop out approx. a cup into a bowl, top with bananas and berries (or whatever fruits you like), prunes (take em or leave em) and a bit of hemp milk or almond milk, enjoy immensely.


After a long first week of work, I just wanted to come home on Friday evening, flop on the couch and eat some delicious gourmet vegan food. So I whipped out the Artful Vegan, by far the hardest and most gourmet vegan recipe book from Millennium Restaurant in SF I have and pulled out the recipe for Saffron Sweet Potato, Fennel and Roasted Garlic with Meyer Lemon Cream from it. The recipe was not too complicated but boy was it good and intensely satisfying. Here is a picture for now, I will update with the recipe later. But speaking of food, all this talk about deliciousness has made me hungry!



Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Smile at the rain

Yesterday as my first day of work at the library and by the end of the day, I was worried that my brain had turned to complete mush. The morning was spent at Central trying to understand all the medical, dental, and various supplemental insurance plans and all the various deductions, filling out forms, getting the new employee handbook, etc. My brain was mostly mush by then and then I had to rush across town to my library. Theresa and I then spent the afternoon getting a basic overview of everything. It is amazing how much procedure stuff is involved with working for the city. In essence we were doing a brief tour of the entire universe and now that we have touched on everything, I can start to look at the galaxy, then the solar system, then the planet... while it is pretty overwhelming, I am confident that I will pick it up quickly. I know I am going to have plenty to do and that is a really nice feeling. My co-workers are great, the patrons diverse and I am so excited about how things are shaping up. After a nice long day at work, I came home exhausted made some delicious food, did some more work, got lots of chores and such done and collapsed into bed and slept quite well.

Today thankfully, I did not have my second day of work. Instead I was working from home and took the opportunity to head up to Cougar for a nice 10 mile run. It was raining in the city and all the way up to the trailhead. I headed up the long grinding hill and the rain quickly went away, and turned to snow. It was crazy! It was so cold, my hands were freezing even though I had gloves. My arms were warm though covered with my new pink DeFeet arm warmers that I picked up from Fleet Feet in Bend. Very nice. The run went well and I finished in a pretty quick 1:32, which is about 3 minutes faster than I usually run it. I couldn't feel my hands, but I changed my clothes and headed to the Matthew's Thriftway for the REAL reason that I went up to Cougar- to stock up on Rub with Love, African Peri-Peri spice rub. I bought the only two they had. Delicious! The rest of the day was spent working, errands, napping and running, again. On my second run, I headed out around the neighborhood for another 6 miles. It was lightly raining when I left the house and got heavier as I tooled along. Despite feeling stiff when I got off the couch before my run, my legs shook out quickly and I was moving at a decent clip. The rain didn't even bother me, in fact brought a smile to my face. Why? I am not quite sure, but I find more and more as my new life unfolds that the blissful insipids come more and more.

Most importantly on my run I came up with the fantastic recipe that follows....sometimes I even surprise myself. I had put some sweet potatoes in the oven to bake before I left and was trying to work out the details. I wanted to do something different, fresh and healthy. Though I do not seem to have the mind for blogging today, I definitely had the mind for creating in the kitchen. This is a complete "fast foodie" original.

The Green Monster
(aka Sweet Potato Kale Wrap ups with roasted onion, tomato and mushrooms)

Ingredients:
2 medium sweet potatoes, baked at 350 for 45-50 minutes
1/3 cup kidney beans from canned, rinsed
1 small can diced green chilis
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
squeeze of lime
1 tbsp garlic sauce
dash of chili powder
dash of salt

10-12 kale, blanched for 1-2 minutes, until pliable but not too soft!
1/2 bunch asparagus, blanched until tender

1 small onion, quartered
5-6 plum tomatoes, halved
4-5 medium mushrooms, sliced.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400. On a baking sheet covered with parchment place the onion, tomato and mushroom, laying them separate and flat. Place the sheet into the oven and roast for 20 minutes, until toasty, golden and tender.

Half the sweet potatoes and scoop out the inside into a bowl, mash with a fork. Mix in rinsed kidney beans, diced green chilis, garlic sauce, cilantro, lime and spices.

On a cutting board or clean flat surface, place two-three pieces of kale, overlapping, stem side up (or cut out stems if they are too thick). Place asparagus perpendicular and scoop sweet potato mixture on top, like this:
Starting at the end closest to you, roll up like sushi, making sure to hold the filling in. This is where it is important to have blanched the kale correctly, if it is undercooked it won't be pliable enough to roll! Take the roll and place in a baking pan. Continue this process until all the kale leaves are used. At this point, you can eat straight away! However, I popped them in the oven for a few more minutes just to warm.


To plate, place two kale rolls on the plate and sprinkle the oven roasted tomatoes, onion and mushrooms over top. In addition, I topped with some sliced avocado, diced cilantro and green salsa.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Like clockwork/ forgeting time

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. Ok, well not quite that dramatic, but it is my first day of work at the library. I am very excited and nervous. It has been quite a while since I worked in an institution/environment that had things like hours, dress codes, offices.... It is quite the change. But change for the better, as I have rambled on and on about. One thing I really enjoy is getting on a sleep schedule that I am motivated to keep. When I lived in SF and worked for Tucker and Marks, I would get up at 5am, go for a run, go to work. I never had a hard time getting up at that hour. I am excited to get back on that routine. Structure in my working life, motivates me to have structure in the rest of my life, and I respond well to that.

Today is a rest day. After 9 days of running in a row and a 73 mile week, plus driving to Bend, OR and back for the weekend, I am ready for it. I could have slept in until after 7 and had ample time to get ready to go for orientation today. But I didn't. I got up at 5am and have felt infinitely more productive this morning that I usually do! Change for the better already! I am going to attempt to sleep 10-5 every night, so that my body's rhythm will get naturally in tune and be rested and ready to go by then. Its kind of funny, I decided to get up at 5 today, mentally stamped that on my brain before bed, set my alarm and was off to sleep just after 10pm. I woke up this morning from a very bizarre dream that involved a friend of mine from SF, Jack and I was lying in bed, feeling awake, not sleepy at all. I lay there for a minute and started to wonder if I should check the time. I figured not, since if it was 3am or something than I would be thinking about trying to get back to sleep and that wouldn't be good. But 30 seconds later, my alarm went off! Apparently, my concrete resolve to wake up at 5am permeated into a part of my brain that made it happen. Hopefully every day will be this easy! I look forward to getting out for my early runs too!

Weekend in Bend

On Friday, I headed down to Bend OR to visit my friend Krissy Moehl and do some hanging out, cooking, and running. I arrived at her doorstep after a nice 5:45 drive, including some dicey bits through the pass. It was good hard driving and I stumbled out of the car and made my way into her house. We went for a nice easy run to shake out my legs and to celebrate her healing of her leg (it was her 3rd run of the day!). We then headed out to Art Hop where I got a real sense of Bend. Downtown was hopping (pun intended) with people and it seemed like they were all familiar faces. Krissy and I discussed why this happened (as it happened to her when she first moved here). Everyone for the most part fits a profile of the type of people we hang out with, there is even a uniform, usually denoted by a puffy jacket. In Seattle, if you see someone in the uniform, chances are you know them or they know at least 6 people you know. Bend is the type of place that attracts a certain type of person (not exclusively, but generally)- outdoorsy, liberal, granola. We wandered around downtown, stopped in to her favorite coffee shop to hear a friend of her's play guitar and then spent some time in the Patagonia store, where I nearly spent way too much money of new clothes for work. But didn't end up buying anything. We tucked into dinner at 9pm, way late for both of us, headed back to the house and settled in for the night.

The next morning we allowed ourselves to be "lazy" , I woke at 7am and got out of the house at 8am to go to Wild Oats to buy groceries for our dinner we planned to prepare. We got ingredients for the Chile Chocolate Mole which we were going to serve over squash (another veganomicon recipe-which ultimately I improvised on) and a side of sauteed greens with carmelized onions, finished with Apple Cider Vinegar. By 10 we were out of the house and headed up to Smith Rock for a 2 hour run. My legs were really tired and sore from the drive and from the long week, so the uphills weren't my favorite. But thankfully for me master uphiller Krissy is just recovering from a torn calf muscle, so I could keep up, this time. It was a beautiful run and as we headed up, Krissy pointed out "the scar" which is basically a trail straight up the side of one of the hills that Rod Bien had said he would treat anyone to lunch if they could run the entire way up (well, hold running form). Apparently Eric Skaggs had successfully done it a week or two earlier, which truly was a big deal...or was it Kyle? Nonetheless, I said, "let's go for it". It looks alot shorter from the bottom and most likely because it is so darn steep! I started up and made it a good 1/3 of the way and then stopped, not because my legs were too tired or because my lungs were burning, but because the trail was so loose and steep, I didn't want to nose dive into it and bust my teeth out. We made it to the top and got to enjoy a nice downhill on the otherside.
View from the top of the Scar

Krissy at the top of the Scar

Me doing something weird, with the scar dropping off behind me.

The nice "easy" not so steep side (the scar was on the other side)

On the way to Monkey Face

After the run Krissy and I refueled with our delicious recovery shakes and headed in to town to do some shopping. We stopped in FootZone and picked up our race numbers for Sunday's Horse Butte 10 miler and I bought two pairs of pants which were each on sale for 50% off! Nice. We wandered around town until both Krissy and I were ravenous and we went to the natural food shop to pick up a snack before heading to the new Fleet Feet! Rob Bien and Sean Meissner were there (owner and store manager respectively) and I was pleased to meet them both. I bought some fabulous pink arm warmers and Sean gave Krissy and I each a Fleet Feet Bend shirt. We invited him over for dinner and he accepted. We headed back to the house and cooked up some fabulous food. I was a bit nervous cooking for them because whenever I cook for an audience, especially people I don't know, but whom have read my blog... The food was delicious, thankfully and despite some culinary trickery due to not having big enough pans for some steps, the food was great! Krissy and I cooked and Sean made a fire and we all sat around enjoying the chocolately goodness of Chile Chocolate Mole Squash & Sweet Potatoes, and Sauteed Greens with Carmelized Onions.
Sautee onion, add squashes (butternut, zucchini, yellow) and water steam until semi-tender. Add Mole (made by Krissy, good job girl!) from the Veganomicon recipe (2 cups). Simmer until tender.


Sauteed chard, mustard greens, cabbage, broccoli with carmelized onions. Finish with a few slashes of Apple Cider Vinegar.



Nice fire Sean!
We all joked that this meal was going to end up on three blogs....thankfully it was good!

Sunday morning Krissy and I woke up at 6:45 and I packed my stuff up and checked pass conditions. It looked like a lot of snow, so I was going to have to take the long way home. I decided I would leave directly from the race and try to make sure I had enough time to get home and get ready for my first day! Horse Butte was a great race and though I was not feeling like racing at all, I wanted to get a run in and I was there, afterall! While we sat in the car, the weather must have changed 50 times. Snowing, not, sunny, windy. It was all there. I had planned on just wearing my long sleeve shirt and gloves but the blowing snow made me change my mind. We lined up, the snow stopped blowing and we were off. I immediately knew I didn't want my coat, but oh well, it was just ten miles. Krissy and I got out fast, but not fast enough to not get caught in the traffic jam at the single track about 1/4 mile in. For the rest of the race, it was a made scramble through the brush to pass people. All in all it went decent and I got a moderately respectable time out of it (1:15) and one badly banged up knee, as I tripped and smashed into the ground knee first. Krissy ran a good time as well coming in a 1:18. I changed clothes and hopped into the car and was off. I made good time, just over 6 hours for the long way and it was generally smooth sailing. It was great to see Krissy and spend my last weekend before work visiting her in her new town!

It is officially time to get ready for work! Yeah!

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