Sunday, December 20, 2009

Soup: A Love Affair

Like everyone on the East Coast I'm walking in a winter wonderland today. In the sense that I'm staying indoors as much as possible since there's a zillion inches of snow out there. Other than helping a friend bail out his car in my PJs this morning I've pretty much managed to avoid the cold, wet elements. I've got the Sunday NY Times, some Christmas movies that I DVR'd, and of course the fixins for what has become the highlight of my weekends -- a giant pot of tasty soup for Sunday dinner. It's a good day, friends.

When I was little I never ate soup. I think that other than clam chowder from the can my parents never made it, and because I really do not like milk I never got on the clam chowder bandwagon. It's sacrilege for a born and bred New Englander, but who knows, maybe one day I'll find some really amazing non-dairy clam chowder for the lactose intolerant and milk averse New Englanders like me. Anyway the first time I remember eating soup and really liking it was when I was an exchange student in Germany, junior year of high school. There weren't a lot of things I ate in Germany that were actually good, so it really stands out in my memory, though at this point it'd be hard for me to say exactly what was in it. Tiny bits of veggies, a lot of salt, and probably some kind of meat grease, knowing those Germans. In any case I haven't had anything like it since then, but it did broaden my food horizons.

Then in law school I survived the chilly, finals-stress-laden winters with a hefty amount of Udon and Soon Duboo Jigae from my neighborhood Japanese and Korean restaurants. There is nothing better than a humongous bowl of Asian umami goodness at the end of a hard day of studying. Or the beginning of a hard night of studying, as the case may be.

Now, I'm back in Boston where it's ridiculously cold and I've been whipping up enough soup to drown an ox. Last week I brought a different soup from the freezer for lunch every day. It's a great way to deal with the work lunch situation when I'm too lazy to go buy sandwich stuff and assemble veggie sandwiches. Veggie sandwiches done right take a lot longer to make than baloney and cheese!

Anyway, back to today's soup. I had stopped buying kale because I find it too tedious to wash and trim so I always end up tossing it out after it wilts in my fridge. But last week it was 50 cents a pound at the store, and none of the other veggies were looking very good, so I had to get some. And a week later, it was starting to look a little haggard and I knew just what to do with it, a recipe I've had bookmarked for years but never got around to. Spicy, creamy, kale-y, potatoey -- it's a good one.

Kale & Potato Soup with Red Chili
(Adapted from Greens by Deborah Madison) Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
8 small to medium cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp salt
1 lb red potatoes (4-5 medium sized), cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 bunch kale, rinsed very well, pulled from the stems and torn into roughly 2-3 inch squares
32 oz (4 cups) vegetable stock
3 cups water
fresh ground black pepper

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaf, red pepper, and salt. Sautee over medium-high heat for 3-4 mins, stirring frequently, until the onions start to brown at the edges.
  2. Mix in the potatoes, nutritional yeast, and 1 cup of water. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover. Cook for about 5 mins.
  3. Add the kale and steam, covered, stirring occasionally until it turns dark green and wilty, about 4 or 5 mins.
  4. Add the rest of the water and stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 30 mins or until the potatoes are soft and smooshable. Taste for saltiness and add fresh ground black pepper to taste.
  5. To thicken the soup base, either smoosh most of the potatoes against the side of the pot and stir in, or take 2 cups of the soup, puree in a blender or food processor, and then add back in.
  6. Let sit for up to an hour for the flavors to meld, and serve. A slab of fresh whole grain baguette would be amazing with this, but some of us are snowed in and have to make do with regular old toast. Either way, dunking carbs into this soup makes it even better.

A few notes --
  1. This soup is on the really salty side for me. If you're not a salt aficionado I'd suggest adding 1/2 tsp of salt at the beginning and then more at the end if it's too bland. That goes double if you're using a commercially prepared vegetable stock, unless it's a low sodium one. I used homemade stock and I don't actually remember whether I salted it when I made it.
  2. The nutritional yeast is also on the salty side and probably not a pantry staple for most non-vegans, but I think it's worth adding if you have some available. It adds a creamy/cheesy quality that complements the potatoes and balances out the spiciness of the chili pepper.
  3. If you don't have a Deborah Madison cookbook (and especially if you're a vegetarian) you should run out and buy Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone right this minute. And make the Kale with Cannellini Beans immediately -- it will make you fall in love with kale.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cold Sesame Noodles

Hey Friendsters,

So once upon a time I lived in fabulous NYC, within the delivery range of a glorious late-night Chinese delivery place called Empire. Oh, Empire. I miss it almost as much as I miss Absolute Bagels, and that is a lot.

One among the many highlights of the Empire experience was the cold sesame noodles. First off, they were FREE. Yeah. Free with any delivery, if you were savvy enough to notice the tiny coupon on the take-out menu. Second, when they were done right, they were the most life-affirming 300000 calorie side dish ever. And then there was the post-cold sesame noodles self hatred. Then, start again. I swore over and over that I'd give them up, but come on -- FREE. Poor student. Free.

Anyway, I only remember the good times with Empire, now that I live 300 miles away. And when I found this recipe in an old cookbook that I have almost never used, it didn't really even occur to me that this would be a lot like the noodles I remember. But they're a passable, far healthier version of the bucket of oily joy that I used to have weekly.

Cold Sesame Noodles (adapted from Jump Up and Kiss Me! Spicy Vegetarian Cooking)
Note: this is one entree-sized serving, which could easily be scaled up to feed 4 or 6.

Ingredients:
2 oz soba noodles
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil, divided
1 heaping Tbsp peanut butter (I used natural, which takes a bit longer to mix in since it's cold)
2 tsp Asian chili garlic sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar (not "seasoned")
1/4 tsp ginger (add up to 1 tsp if you are a big ginger fan)
2 Tbsp water
1-2 scallions, chopped

1. Add soba to boiling water; cook for about 3 mins, until it's tender. Drain the noodles and toss with 1/2 tsp of sesame oil. Set aside.
2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and ginger. When they're fully combined, add the water and whisk until combined. Then add the sesame oil and whisk again.
3. Add the noodles and scallions into the sauce. Toss and serve!


Thoroughly non-shocking confession: I have eaten this exact meal (steamed cauliflower plus cold sesame noodles) thrice this week! The photo is actually from Monday, as I've now run out of scallions. I still have at least one more serving of soba in my pantry though, so I could be going for 4 tomorrow night...

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The best effing soup ever, y'all

Oh it's this one.

Ohh yes. Not my best photo ever but I could only manage one take before I started lapping this stuff straight out of the bowl. OK not really, but it really is so so so good. I served it to my friends as the main course at a dinner party once, even though it is not the all-time heartiest of soups. Garlic, rosemary, tomatoes, chickpeas -- that's pretty much it.

Due to my incredible lack of fundage right now I'm trying to be less spendy on my groceries. This is a chronic problem -- grocery shopping is kind of a hobby, and I tend to fill my fridge and pantry with stuff I may one day use, you know, when I get around to the kind of recipes that require either equipment I don't have yet or some vast amount of time or messiness. Anyway, what I'm getting at is that I've been buying lots of dry beans, especially since a couple of weeks ago when I finally figured out how to use the pressure cooker. This thing is genius! It cooks beans in a crazy short time and they come out amazing. Plus it's a badass gadget and if used incorrectly it can explode like a delicious aromatic bomb. So there's the danger element.

And now, where I had previously hated cooking beans because I didn't have the patience to cook them until they are actually done (sometimes up to 3 hours, sheesh!), now I love it because I get to use my cool gadget and I am able to do it to my satisfaction in a half hour or less.

So, I came home from work today a half hour or so later than usual, and it was on. I pressure cooked the chickpeas, plus the equivalent of another can to throw in the freezer. Washed some dishes (I am turning over a new leaf vis-a-vis my out of control kitchen clutter) and then threw on the soup. This is a super quick soup so it's really easy to do after work if you start with already-cooked chickpeas. And if you happen to have a loaf of fresh crusty bread of some kind to dip in it, that puts it way over the top. I made some extra-crispy toast from my regular trader joe's sprouty bread and that also did the job.

Hooray for cold, wet days and the tasty warm meals they require. I am in a pretty terrific mood because I worked my butt off today and felt like I had really accomplished some things (in advance of meeting with my reportedly ultra hardcore new boss who returns tomorrow from a sabbatical). And I reconnected with a friend who I've been meaning to hang out with, so there are lunch plans happening, and I've got 2 alterna-Nutcracker Christmas shows in a row the next couple of days. (Thursday, Friday) Yay Christmas. Yay nearly-naked friends dancing to Christmas music.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Philadelphia Half Marathon, Nov 22 2009

Photos here, because they want me to pay $50 for a jpg so they make it impossible to embed the proofs. But they are pretty silly. My natural unphotogenicness is enhanced by my extreme sweaty grossness but the feeling of victory is pretty obvious, no?

So, I ran a half marathon. I did this once before in May 2008 but this time was about 10 million times better. Mainly because I trained better, but also it was a much better course, with more people and more enthusiastic people (and more slow people, really) than Brooklyn. And I think there is a major psychological benefit to having done one already. I kind of knew what it feels like when you get to Mile 12. Or I thought I did! This time was just so much easier in almost every way than last time.

Here's the summary:

At the end of the week leading up to the race, I had serious pain happening. In my butt. Seriously, it was some kind of pinched nerve situation that at first I thought was a joint issue but then it was pointed out to me that my left butt is not really that close to a joint. For real, I was not able to get out of bed at the appointed time on Saturday because bending hurt too much. But when I dragged myself up about an hour after the alarm first went off, I decided I was going to drive to PA anyway, and even if I couldn't run the race I'd watch my friend IC (who I roped into this) do it on his own.

Drive, drive, drive! I left Boston at 6 am and got to IC's house around 12:30 after getting pretty lost at the very end of the drive. By then I was walking pretty ok and figured if I could get out of bed on Sunday I'd be doing the race. We went to the race expo, bought flashy running sunglasses (you can see them in my race photos), and also hit up the UnderArmour outlet for lots of cheap-ish tech clothing. We definitely flouted the "don't wear anything new the day of a race" rule. Then IC's wife NC cooked us up a really delicious pasta meal and we all went to bed super early.

Sunday morning I woke up without much pain at all, at ridiculous o'clock in the morning. Everyone was up and excited, which is really more than I expected for 4:30 am on a weekend. N's friend A had come over late Saturday so she could come keep N company while she was cheering and IC and I were running. We suited up, got in the car, and headed to the start. It was really, really cold. But apparently about 20 degrees warmer than last year, so I can't really complain. Once the sun came up it was really great running weather.

We milled around, ran into my friend A from law school (we knew she'd be there but did not expect to find her in a crowd of over 18,000). And then just before the 7 am start we wandered over to try to find an appropriate corral to start in. We were supposedly color-coded but we couldn't figure out where we were supposed to be and just situated ourselves in the middle, which seemed to work. We started in the third wave of runners (marathon and half marathon were mixed right up until the 13 mile mark) and off we went! The beginning was chaotic like most races are, with everyone trying to figure out their pace and find some space to move. Actually that went on for most of the race -- there were sooo many people.

IC took off pretty quick at the start, which we had anticipated; I knew he'd been training at a faster pace than me so we had made plans to meet up at the end (not anticipating just how crowded it would actually be). I warmed up over the first mile, took off my gloves (the race planners provided us with some cheap gloves, which was really great), and got into a good pace. The first couple miles I had kind of a lot of pain, but not too much to take and the running definitely wasn't making it worse than if I was walking (or standing or sitting) so I pushed through but reminded myself that I could quit if it got bad.

The course went all over Philly, and the first few miles took us from the center of town (Art Museum) through Chinatown, to the Delaware River and along that for a bit. It was in this area that I found IC, checked in with him, and passed him. He was not having such great luck with his new clothing, it turns out. (And he'd never done a race at all before!) But he looked in good spirits and he was chugging along so I didn't worry about him. I had no idea what my time was though -- I forgot to start my watch until I'd been going for a few minutes, and with all the excitement I wasn't really able to do the math to figure out what my pace was except that I remembered the time when I passed Mile 1 (18:50) so I could keep a running average time whenever I passed a timeclock. As it turns out I think I crossed the start line at around 8 minutes, something like that.

So, back to the race recap -- when I got to about mile 5 I could hear a bigger cheering section up ahead. To that point there were families scattered along the sidelines cheering for their runner, and some nurses outside the hospital offering massages and water, but when we turned onto Chestnut St, which would be the longest straight stretch of the race, suddenly there were TONS of people cheering. The sidewalk was packed and it created a weird claustrophobia-inducing effect where the runners were in a narrower street than before and there were people standing on the curbs so they were too tall to see over. It was weird, but thankfully the road wasn't so crowded that I felt freaked out or anything. The energy of the crowd was a good boost there at the halfway point. I stopped at mile 7 for the first time to walk for about 2 minutes and eat one of the caffeinated sugar goo packets that I brought. Getting going again was easier than expected and I felt good going into the 8th mile, which was a doozy. We went up and over a bridge at the Skuylkill River, then up a big hill to the area by UPenn (I think). It was rough, and I started to walk again when I got to the top of the hill but a woman maybe my mom's age saw my name on my race bib and said "Come on Rosalie, you can do it!" I know some people find that creepy but I really like it -- I took off running again, and came to a good downhill section that got me back in the groove.

It was around that time that we turned and started heading into a park. This was the hardest part by far, up a big and windy hill that seemed to go on forever. I had to walk for a minute right around the 9 mile marker to get myself up to the top, but then I picked up the pace again heading down and out of the park. Once I got back out onto the road, there were runners going both directions. It was an out and back mile and a half or so, and a lot of people seemed to get pumped up by seeing the people ahead and behind them. I was scanning the crowd trying to find IC because I didn't know if he'd passed me again or if he was just behind me. I got into a really good rhythm and this was probably my quickest leg of the race. It was flat, predictable, and I was surrounded by other runners so the race effect was in full effect. I never did see IC though, so when I got to the end of the out-and-back and the road widened I got more focused on finishing. I took quick walk breaks at mile 11 and again at mile 12, and at 12 I had the second goo packet for a final energy boost. In this stretch there were a lot of high-fivers. I love high fives during the race! There were a bunch of college age ladies right in the middle by a water station wearing t-shirts that said "free high fives" so I took advantage while I still had the energy to lift my arm.

From there, well, it was tough but I knew I'd be done soon, after running for over 2 hours. So I tried to keep the pace up at a good clip for the final 1.1 miles. And I also knew I'd finish at or around my goal time of 2:30! (At mile 12 the clock said 2:20, so I had done the past 11 miles in about 2:01.) When I got really close, the crowd got louder and the road narrowed as the marathoners went left to mile 14 and the half marathoners went right to the finish line. I ran as fast as I could (at this point, really not all that fast) and finished strong at 2:23:42!

That is over 6 minutes under my goal time and a fantastical 17 minutes faster than my May 2008 Brooklyn time.

IC finished his first half strong and with style, in some fantastic blue knee socks that apparently gave him a lot of trouble but looked very cool. (I haven't seen his race photos yet but if you are his Facebook friend you should check out the pre-race photos posted by N.) And after much searching and borrowing of strangers' cell phones and maybe a little bit of crying and flopping on the ground, I found N and A, and eventually IC found us and hopped a fence to join the crew. We hobbled a painful quarter mile to the car, went home, showered, and ate SO MUCH DELICIOUS FOOD OH MY GOD. We got a big hearty brunch, and for dessert I ordered us some cheese fries. Pennsylvania is the only place I know of where Cheez Wiz is exalted and consumed with no shame. (This may be why Philly is one of the nation's fattest cities, but I'm still calling it a positive.) A lot of it was consumed that day, since later on after we collapsed and slept on the couches (and N and A attended a baby shower) we ordered more cheese fries and sandwiches for dinner. Monday morning I got up early yet again and hit the road back to Boston with my medal, commemorative t-shirt, and glory!

And that, friends, is the tale of my half marathon. It's making me excited all over again to write about it. I DEFINITELY recommend Philly to anyone who's thinking of doing a half or full marathon. If I ever run a full (I'm entertaining the idea) I think this will be the one I go for. So stay tuned, maybe Philly Full Marathon 2010 will happen...

Monday, November 30, 2009

What I've Been Eating

Hello Internet! It has been a while. I ran a half marathon! I passed the Mass bar exam! News!

Well, the general malaise of 2009 marches on despite accomplishments and great moments. I am really promising myself that 2010 will be better, including lots of good food and happy stories.

But it occurred to me today to share the thing that I've been eating pretty much 2-3 times a week for the past couple of months.

There it is in all its bland, beige glory. My 5-minute one-pan, one-bowl comforty healthy dinner.

Take 6-10 oz trimmed cauliflower and 1/4 of a block of firm-ish tofu. Toss em in a steamer basket over boiling water for about 3-4 mins. Drop 1/4 cup whole wheat couscous into a heatproof bowl. Pour 1/4 cup boiling water over the couscous and cover the bowl with aluminum foil. Let sit for 5 mins then fluff with a fork. Throw the cauliflower and tofu over top. Drizzle with soy sauce and hit it with a sprinkle of black sesame seeds if you're feeling wild. Inhale.

Though it is on the bland side, it is delicious, very good for you, and requires very little chopping and cleaning, which seems to be a priority for me these days when I get home from work ravenous. Sometimes I really mix it up by using sweet chili sauce or Trader Joe's "soyaki" sauce instead, but soy sauce is easier and has fewer calories. I'd rather have my sugar in dessert form, mainly.

There you have it. I did make a ridiculously gigantic pot of vegan carrot bisque yesterday but it wasn't anything to write home about. I'm not sure what possessed me to make it when there are 10 other soups on my to-make list and I am starting to think I am kind of allergic to carrots. It was super carroty and really not bad but I'm not really looking forward to eating it 5 more times...

Back soon with a recap of the Philly Half Marathon and other thrilling running events -- this is one thing I am very excited about! So I'm saving it for a less blahh post tonight or tomorrow. When it'll be December! Yay Christmas!

Friday, October 16, 2009

I totally forgot to tell you

About my 2 totally excellent mini-injuries from the race on Sunday. First, there was my blue big toe, which I thought was pretty bad-ass. It was just a blood blister but it did look hardcore. I'm sure this is not the best course of action, but I popped it, which was icky but kind of satisfying. AND I managed, just before the race, to cut my finger on the door to a porta-potty. OMG GERMGERMGERMS. Fortunately I didn't notice at first, so I didn't have a total meltdown right in the porta-potty corral, and also fortunately I slathered on a ton of hand sanitizer stuff so hopefully I won't be getting the flesh eating bacteria or something. Although I really did worry the next day that I had blood poisoning, when I had a headache that wouldn't go away. I think it was just dehydration. My finger hasn't fallen off yet or anything.

And a word about work: on my way to work every day I pass by a big clock tower, which is right by my T station. On maybe one day out of four when I walk by the clock says something like 8:45 (or earlier!) and I do a little dance of happiness at my success in being a responsible grownup. The rest of the time it says something more like 8:55, like today. Sigh. It's not like anyone here cares, but I did tell a bunch of people I was coming in early today, since I'm leaving early for marathon buddy IC's wedding in Pennsylvania. By which obviously I meant late, in jeans, laden with way too much luggage for a 2 day trip. I really hope the rest of my carpool isn't bringing as much stuff as me, because it's going to be too rainy to strap anything to the roof.

OH and I found my camera battery this morning, hallelujah. Get ready for so many photos of food and foliage!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tufts Healthcare 10K for Women

Hello friends. Friends, hello.

In the hopes of getting back into my super-psyched-about-running mindset that I had before I left for Australia and traded all my good habits for some bad ones, I signed up for a 10k race a few weeks back. Today was the day, and I would say that my mission was totally accomplished. It was glorious.

There were about 7000 runners (plus many hundreds of significant others, parents, children, and other spectators loitering around, cheering, and eating all the free food). I'd guess that somewhere around 99% were women. This was invigorating, and I think that although co-ed races are fun too, being in a field of almost all women makes it more fun. Plus there are a lot of ladies who probably wouldn't have signed up for a co-ed 10k, including a lot of walkers and families, because this is a walker-friendly race. (As in, they don't kick you off if you're not averaging at least 15 minute miles or something, which in a lot of races they do.)

I ran much faster and stronger than I expected, and I'm attributing this to 2 factors (other than the beautiful weather and very nice course): first, I've been adding some sprints to my treadmill routine. Not really for training so much as to get me off the horrid treadmill faster than I otherwise would. So I think that has helped to make running faster than my comfort zone feel more normal, which then elevates the comfort zone points. And the other factor is, there were loads of people who were slower than me! This was kind of annoying at times because I had to kind of push and shove past like 1500 slowpokes. But it also produces the race effect, which I think of as riding on a wave of people who are pushing you forward. In longer races where I am the most out of shape person there, no such wave exists and I'm just out there on my own trying to finish ahead of the 90 year old speed-walkers (and failing). Lots of out-of-shape people sign up for a (mostly) women's 10k.

So, half-marathon training on! I have a little less than 6 weeks until the Philly Half, and I feel great about it. As compared to the last (only) half marathon I ran, in May 2008, I have trained more comprehensively, I have better gear, and I think it's going to be a much better course. (Do not do the Brooklyn Half Marathon, it really really sucks.)

I'm off to PA this coming weekend to watch my Philly Half running partner get married. Hopefully by the time of the wedding I will have either found or replaced my camera battery so instead of pontificating for the 1-2 friends who read this, I will post some photos of what I'm sure is going to be both a gorgeous running locale and a fantastical wedding reception meal.

Oh PS my time (according to my watch) was approximately 1:05:34, which averages out to about a 10:30 mile. I was remembering my splits as I went along but now I can't really piece it together. In mile 2 and mile 5 I ran about a 10-min mile. This is faster than I ever run in training, so I'm definitely going to have to think about speeding up the training workouts. More sprinting, for sure.

ETA: Official chip time was 1:06:04, for an average of 10:38/mile.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The cheese is old and moldy. Where is the bathroom? Where the eff is my camera battery?

Peep peep!

I am back from Australia, all (well mostly) moved into my fabulous new apartment, and in week two of my job. And I'm old(er) as of 2 weeks ago. 27, yeesh! It's not that I feel too old, it's more that I still kind of feel like I'm 23 or something. The past few years, well they went pretty fast. The past few weeks did too, so maybe it's just the relativity effect. You know, like each second that passes is a smaller percentage of the time you've been alive than the previous second. This is what I tell myself because I don't feel like my life is sooo interesting that it makes time feel fast.

Anyway, this is just to say, I have internet now and even more of my hilarious friends are now blogging, and I guess I'm going to have to return to this old thing and let you know what's up. As soon as I find my stupid camera battery and stuff.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Yowza!

Well. After hours of moping around the house, watching Jerry McGuire, etc., and debating whether the embarrassment of wearing the water belt was going to be worthwhile for the ease of carrying water and clif blox, I did make it out. Ultimately, as dumb as I felt with the thing pinching my pudge and looking generally dorky, I'm glad I brought it. My philosophy these days about such things -- pudge-pinching proper running gear, jiggly bits on display, etc.-- is that it's necessary if I'm ever going to be less pudgy than I am today. Also, running with proper gear is really a much more enjoyable experience than trying to trudge through my tough training schedule without the right things.

About an hour before I left, I had a hearty lunch of lots of romaine lettuce, a sunshine burger, salsa, a few crackers, and some hummus that was pretty much frozen because my family's fridge is going crazy because it's mostly empty. (The fam is on vacation and they took most of their food with them.)

It took me forever to get out the door, and as soon as I turned off our street onto the main road I realized I had forgotten the watch part of my heart rate monitor. I thought about going back, but decided it was probably for the best. So I did 8 miles and have no clue how fast I went or what my heart rate was. I think I probably run a little slower without the watch, but I was able to go for longer and didn't get frustrated with the fact that the HRM part has a dying battery and sometimes doesn't work. I just plodded from one mile marker to the next and didn't give too much thought to how long it was taking. I didn't get a parking ticket, so presumably the entire trek including warmup and a short walk between my car and the trail all took less than 2 hours.
I did manage to snap a few photos out on the trail. It was overcast and windy and felt as if it could downpour at any moment, but so far it still hasn't.

One mile down -- I ran from the 4 mi mark to 8 mi and back.
Turnaround point! I hit a second wind not long before this, so I was feeling great.
Heading back -- more uphill parts, bit of a struggle. I walked for about a quarter mile when I hit the 4 1/2 mile mark while I ate a couple of clif blox. I thought these might be too sticky or unpleasant to eat, but they were not bad at all and gave me a pretty good energy boost. I do prefer running nutrition stuff with caffeine, but as long as I can get a little sugar in me while I do a long run I'm fine.
The end! I walked most of the last half-mile because my hip flexors were really feeling strained. I think I could've made it the rest of the way jogging, but I didn't want to push it.

Chafing, yuck! I didn't notice the blood on my shirt until I got to the gas station on the way home. I was totally embarrassed but I really needed to put gas in the car, so I got out and fueled up anyway, doing my best to cross my arms so that the bloodstain wouldn't be obvious. I have oozy, icky chafe marks all along the top of my sports bra, similar to what happened last week. Yeck. Must get some runner's lube before my next longer run, but that won't be until September! (Probably -- I suppose it is possible that I'll do a long one on vacation, but I'm lucky if I exercise at all, really.)

Bloodied but blissful in the kitchen once I got home.
Post-run snackeroo. These mini clif bars are kind of terrific, though they are very mini. I bought a box of them to bring on vacation, along with loads of larabars, trail mix, and other goodies so that I can keep the budget manageable and cope if I end up someplace not vegetarian-friendly.

The bad thing about an afternoon run is that then the day is kind of over. It's now 6 pm and even though I feel great about finishing the run, I haven't actually done any of the other crap on my to-do list. I am going to start packing for my trip tonight, and must finish up some other business. And tomorrow I'm hopefully getting my dress tailored for the wedding I'm attending next weekend! It's a super cute dress so I really hope the tailoring works out because it presently looks a bit too much like a nightgown at the bottom. I think if it were cocktail-length it would work.

Now, I'm off to see if any of my veggies I bought this week are usable -- I have been so frustrated with everything getting frozen!

I want, I want

I've been bidding this week on a replacement transmitter belt for my heart rate monitor, as mine is failing and I don't have the original sales receipt to cash in on the warranty -- who knew these things had excellent warranty coverage and I could get a replacement battery for watch and transmitter for free?! I will definitely pay more attention next time. I also had no idea how much my relatively basic polar HRM was when my parents gave it to me. Duly noted.

But I've also now been dyyyying to buy a Garmin, one of those gadgets that not only tells you your heart rate, calorie burn, and time, but has a GPS and tells you your distance and speed. That would allow me to be the anal retentive, overly numbers-obsessed Virgo that I cannot help but be, while letting me get off the track and other pre-measured distances. When I was in NYC, it was super easy to go down to Central Park and run 4, 5, 6, or 8 miles just by picking which turn to take along the loop. I got so dependent on it that I didn't run once last summer in Boston, because I just had no idea where to start. Now that I know they've got mile markers on the Minuteman Trail, that's a bit of a lifesaver too, since it's accessible by public transit so I could potentially go there even after I've turned in my rental car this week.

Anyway, I'm writing this as I ponder, whiny-ly, whether I will take the opportunity to go out for one last long run before my big trip, or if instead I'll just go get on a hamster wheel at the gym where I can have my water bottle and crappy TV while I eke out an hour or two. I've got another 8-miler on the schedule for today, but last week's run left me chafed in all sorts of odd places, and I've just got this malaise that won't quit this week. I don't want to go on and on about it, but 26 was just not a great year for me. I think age 27 will be a challenging one as well, but I think also a hopeful and optimistic one, settling into the city that will likely be home for me for the rest of my life. How about that!

Weather.com tells me that it's going to be cool and cloudy for the next few hours, so I think maybe I can manage a trip to the trail after all. If I put on my dorky water belt I can even bring the camera along, so we'll see how that works out.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

So maybe this is kind of a running blog

That's not really outside of the spirit in which I started this thing, though I do want to devote more energy to the food things once I start my New Life As a Grownup, Again in a month and a half. But for now I am way more focused on the running/fitness/stress release things than the creative/foodie/domestic stuff of my life.

Anyway, today's item on the training schedule said: speedwork. This is one that I practically always skip, mainly because it is scary. Also it only comes up like once every 4 weeks, so there haven't been that many so far anyway. In any case, I dawdled, I overate at dinner, I whined, and then finally I put on some damn gym clothes and went to the gym, having put it off long enough that it was too dark out to go do my speedy miles on the high school track.

And then I ran the fastest 2.75 miles of my life! It was incredible. About halfway through I got this dopey grin on my face, thinking about how all I had wanted to do was stay home and eat chocolate (yes it is my "special lady time" and I bought my favorite chocolates today), and yet there I was busting out super speedy miles on the treadmill. All told, I did a little over 5 miles, with some slow jogging and walking in between the speed intervals. Hurrah!

Other than that, my day was moderately productive. Went to Sbux, drank some coffee and did some proofing. It is conceivable that I may be able to sign off on this stuff without even having to FTP new pages to the publisher, which would be super rad since the FTP stuff requires me to actually go to New York. Though I do eventually have to get down there and retrieve the shoes and books I forgot there last time. And I want to go to DC this weekend to visit K, who I have really been missing since we're no longer in the same city -- we spent almost every day together over the last 3 years, and many more in the 6 years before that, and now we're a tragic 700ish miles apart. Oy!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Signed up!

I managed, with only a little coaxing, to convince one of my best hometown friends, IC, to sign up with me for the Philadelphia Half Marathon on Nov 22. He and his fiance (who'll be his wife by then) live in the suburbs of Philly and visiting them is always a blast. And he's reportedly been getting fit -- I haven't seen him in a long time, close to 2 years now I think.

Anyway, I am suuuper stoked to be all registered and I already adjusted my training plan accordingly. I am hoping to get in 2-3 shortish runs per week while I'm off on my trip, but we'll see how often I'm able to do laundry and how much beer I'm putting away while I'm there... Last time I took a trip by myself (to Estonia and Sweden) I did tons of walking which I cancelled out and then some with all the beer, cheese, and cake I consumed, and it marked the end of the fittest time in my life.

ALSO! Tomorrow I think my brother and I are making pizza a la Vegan With a Vengeance. We'll see, since today he bailed on it to go do competitive eating with his friends. If you're facebook friends with my sister you can see a photo of the mountain of ice cream and toppings he attempted unsuccessfully to put away.

The food at the wedding the other night . . . well, it was not the most photogenic and I didn't manage to get a picture of my extremely creamy pasta with veggies before I sank my hungry face into it. From what I heard, the veggie option was the best of the lot. I did snap a couple of photos of the very cute cupcakes that were at our tables when we sat down. The couple opted to do a small and gorgeous little cake in white and blue, and then instead of serving it up they gave us each a cupcake that matched the main cake.


Tonight I busted out a couple of quick miles on the treadmill, including a half mile at 9:00 pace (that's really fast for me!) and then went to Zumba. I think every week I go through the same thought process during this class, where at first I am really not feeling it, but by the time we get 15 minutes in I'm having a really good time. It is really funny to watch the suburban moms and grandmas shake and shimmy to the Latin music.

And now I've got lots of loose ends to tie up with my old law journal, my 2 sort-of workplaces, and seeing friends before I jet off to Oregon and Australia. I don't do so great with loads of work and no real timeline, and I'm generally just burnt out on everything, so mostly I sleep and watch TV. And read novels and blogs. And sit around in my jammies until the afternoon. Sometimes I worry that I must be extremely depressed, and maybe I am, but I am really really looking forward to the part where I cuddle koalas and also the part where I have my own apartment and a real job. Let's just fast forward to the good stuff!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Minuteman Trail, Lexington MA

I fiiiiiinally made it out for a run on the Minuteman Trail today, a rails-to-trails path that runs from Cambridge MA thru a few historically significant, idyllic little towns, to suburban Bedford MA. I keep meaning to go out there, but I kind of hate running in new places, where I'm not sure what the hills might be like, or if I'll be able to notice mile markers, how many people, etc. I used to rollerblade on the Minuteman trail occasionally in high school and college, and I think I may have taken my squeaky old crappy bike there once or twice, but this was my first time running there.

It was really pretty great. And hard, and hot, but I'll be back for sure, maybe next time not at noon on a sunny hot day. I busted out 8 miles, the longest I've run since my half marathon a year and a bit ago, and one of only like 3 times in my life that I've run that far.

The splits:
Mile 1: 11 min
Mile 2: 11 min
Mile 3: around 11:10 (mile markers spray-painted on the ground had worn away)
Mile 4: 12:20?
Mile 5: 16 min?
Mile 6: 12:30
Mile 7: 15:15
Mile 8: 11:15

Avg heart rate: 156, Cals burned 1450. (Including warm up and cool down)

So yeah there was some walking, and a lot of whining to myself in my head during that middle part where I got extremely overheated, couldn't get my sugary goo packet open with sweaty hands, and kind of felt like Miles 4/5 were actually more than a mile (covered the same ground, since it was 4 miles out, 4 miles back). I was going just as fast on mile 4, I think, as previously when I was maintaining almost perfectly the same 11 min/mile pace, and then I just kept going and going after 11 mins. But I walked a bunch, managed to get the goo (mocha+caffeine clif shot) open and into my mouth, and dodged many tiny kids on bikes to pick up the pace for the final mile. All in all, glorious. I was covered in dirt and salt at the end.

Tonight I'm attending the wedding of C, one of my oldest and sweetest friends, to her high school sweetheart M who she's been dating off & on for over 11 years. Wowsers. I love weddings, mainly because I'm a huge sappy dork. But this is the year of all my high school friends getting married, and even though it means I'm going to have to find new friends to go out and hit on strangers with, it's all pretty terrific, so hooray for that.

Now, vegging out in front of TV and AC. Wedding food photos later!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Now what?

Last night I did in fact succeed at getting fairly drunk (especially right after the test when my dad bought me 2 giant martinis and I spilled half the second one all over the guy sitting near us at the bar). And convinced my B-ton friends to come out for the celebrations, which made me feel very special since some of them actually had to work today. My family surprised me by showing up right after the test and taking me out for a super nice dinner. Really I have been whiny and crazy enough this summer that everyone I spend time with felt they had a stake in this, and you know they kind of did. Family members were really stressed out, etc. It was really sweet, and kind of nice that they appreciated the hugeness of the whole thing from my perspective. And my dad gave me a really thoughtful pep talk yesterday about how I'm handling my life in a good way. All in all, way more positive reinforcement than this girl's equipped for.

And now, well, it's noon on Friday, I'm home alone, listening to NPR podcasts with a few hours to kill before my glorious 80-minute massage that I scheduled for late this afternoon, and I don't really know what to do with myself. The responsible answer is, make a dent in the work (yeah work, blah) I have to do this weekend plus go to the gym. But I think more likely I'm just going to watch TV, get dressed, go pick up my new travel pack from the REI store, and just relax-o-rama. And try to figure out which shoes I might wear to my friends' wedding tomorrow (yay I love weddings!). You know, life is pretty good at this moment even though I am slightly bored and also slightly overwhelmed by the 10,000,000 errands to do in 2 weeks before I leave for my big trip. Wheee Australia!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

All My Bags Are Packed, I'm Ready to Go...

I woke up this morning, on Bar Exam Day 1, at 5 am. And rolled out of bed at 5:15, threw on running clothes and ipod, and went off to the high school track. I had it all to myself this morning for a quickie 1.5-mile sunrise run. Who is this person? My high school and college selves would never believe this.

Now I'm all showered and breakfasted, and I've got my regulation 1-gallon ziploc bag containing many #2 pencils, earplugs, tissues, wallet, lip balm, sandwich and snacks (NOT to be eaten in test room at any time!). Nothing else allowed. And I'm about to head off to the World Trade Center in the beautiful seaport area of Boston to get started with the next phase of life, the attorney phase. Oy.

I was going to try to stay at a hotel this week, to spare my family the abuse and me the noise and inconvenience of my current living situation (no privacy, no quiet space, etc) but I'm kind of glad I didn't, since at this point I'm reasonably zen'd out about the thing and my parents are sort of doting, to the extent my parents ever are that way. They are nervous and excited.

Today, I've got under control. Tomorrow, well that's another story as I've still got a little bit of cramming to do for the Mass test. Eesh. But if I rock the test today (ha ha) it won't be that horrible if tomorrow's essays are all crap I don't know like civ pro and jurisdiction. (Those are the same topic! If I get 2 civpro/jurisdiction essays I will scream!)

That's all from here, I'm off.

Friday, July 24, 2009

July 23-24, 2009

Whoa there, 2 posts in a row. It's obviously been an uber-productive AM over here in the study bunker.

But since the last one didn't involve any actual foodstuffs, here's a summary of the last 18 hours.

I woke up yesterday afternoon hungry, cranky and confused from a nap on the couch with my face in a book and decided to abandon my original dinner plan involving something like quinoa and tofu, and go for the quick and comforty dinner of butternut squash soup (trader joe's), sugar snaps, and some toast with canola margarine. So quick and delicious. During finals a couple months ago I pretty much lived on toast for a while, and I really just don't get sick of it, especially with chewy and complex sprouted wheatberry bread. Nom nom nom.
I also had like 4 popsicles (it's a family addiction -- we used to have "ice cream time" every night around here and now my dad buys popsicles by the ton as a healthier replacement) and a handful of chocolate covered edamame. So good, that stuff, really it's a revelation.

This morning, I rolled out of bed around 8:45 and dug into some kashi go-lean almond honey flax (on sale at Target for super cheap!) with blackberries, plus some coffee. Not sure if my parents' coffee is getting better or my standards are going down, but probably it's the second one. Which is fine -- beggars can't be choosers, after all, and it is awfully nice of them to feed and shelter me all summer...
A little later, a protein shake. Since I'm such a weight-liftin' burly girly, I gots to get my protein. Or something. I'm trying to cut back on the soy (because Jillian Michaels and Briana Stockton have indoctrinated me into their little anti-soy vegan school of thought, to an extent) so I'm using oat milk these days, but I've still got oodles of soy protein powder so I haven't broken into my new stash of hemp protein powder yet. The oat milk is pretty terrific, but kind of expensivo. I've also got hemp milk to try after the oat milk is gone, so I'll post a full report on that when I get to it. It is in a tie-dye printed tetrapak, so obviously it's going to be good.
And the lunch du jour (or really, du week, but I don't know any actual French): wild arugula with a garden herb flavor Sunshine burger, topped with garlicky hummus and salsa. OMG. This is the best and most delicious lunch of all time. Inspired by several bloggers who have posted about a similar salad idea, I've been eating this really often in the last few weeks. Sunshine burgers are soy-free and vegan, and sooooo delicious. I bought a million of them last time I went to whole foods, and I think I've got just 3 left in the freezer now since I left a bunch in my friend's apartment when I stayed there a couple weeks ago.
That's today so far, and now I'm back to the studying. 2 hours of evidence, 90 mins or so at the gym, then stopping by to pay respects. Sigh. Then, home for constitutional law, criminal law & procedure, and a whole lotta practice questions. Woo, Friday!

Apartment!

To my huge relief, I now have a place to live starting September when I get back from the big Australia trip. It's a big-ish place, big kitchen, in my ideal price range, and less than 10 mins to the T. And a clawfoot tub! Basically, every single thing I wanted, so hopefully that all works out -- I generally have a lot of skepticism about perfect apartments, since I've had a couple and they both had major issues (crazy landlady, crazy landlady/roommate). This landlord seems not-crazy and also, he doesn't live in the building so even if he is some kind of nutter I won't have to deal with him monitoring my comings and goings. He owns several buildings around the city and lives in the suburbs so there's only so much time he could possibly devote to stalking me, and that is how I like it. Also amazing: I don't have to carry my heavy stuff (except the futon I lent a friend for the summer, which I'll have to somehow retrieve) because I've got movers! So I just have to call them up and get them to take my furniture & boxes out of storage and bring it all over to the new place. Very nice, since the new place is a 3rd floor walkup, not the most fun for moving into.

Hooray for that one piece of awesome news amid the drudgery. I've been slogging along with studying, working out, sleeping off the past few weeks of inadequate sleep. And then got really bad news yesterday that a really young guy who used to bus tables at the restaurant where I worked in college had died. Ugh. Just, ugh. What a sweet kid, and a member of the amazing and wonderful family who own the place where I practically lived for 3 years and where I took refuge when things with my own family were less than awesome. So, that kind of threw things into perspective a bit, that maybe my weeks of whining and crying and generally feeling like the bar exam is the worst thing that could happen to a person, well maybe it is all a bit overdramatic. I'm taking a break from my self-centeredness today to go to the wake.

So, that's happening. And I'm going to also try to plow through my 3 remaining multi-state exam subjects and go lift weights and other unrealistically many things. Life is going to be so good in one week, aside from the awe-inspiring hangover I imagine I will have next Friday. Hurrah.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

baked!

So, on the schedule today was approximately 11 hours of studying, of which I've so far done about 2.5. I also went to the gym (during which somehow several hours apparently disappeared, even though I only worked out for an hour and 20 mins), Trader Joe's, and Target, and I baked 2 dozen pretty good vegan blueberry muffins.

Behold:
Yum! I haven't baked vegan muffins in a zillion years, probably because I kind of gave up on vegan baking a long time ago when all the recipes I tried were so crappy. But ever since Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and other such Isa Chandra Moskowitz masterpieces, my faith is renewed.

These muffins are fluffy, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, and extremely gooey because of the overload of blueberries in there. They could probably do with fewer, but come on. It's not such a bad thing to bite in and realize that the whole muffin is pretty much just fresh jam masquerading as baked goods.

They do need a little something, maybe a little cinnamon and nutmeg as they are spiceless. However, looking around the internets now it seems like a lot of muffin recipes are sans spice, so I guess it's not so uncommon.

Here is the recipe, for vegans, those who've run out of eggs & milk, or who want to treat your vegan friends:

Vegan Blueberry Muffins (adapted from EgglessCooking.com)
makes 24

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups soymilk
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar (apple cider vinegar is great for this, but white is also fine)
  • 4 cups white flour (could substitute whole wheat for 1-2 cups of this)
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar (I use Trader Joe's organic, as it's also vegan--even non vegans must agree, "non-vegan sugar" just sounds horrifying!)
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries (could reduce this if you want your muffins more muffiny)

  1. Preheat oven to 350*. Line 2 muffin pans with paper liners or lightly grease them.
  2. Mix vinegar into soymilk and set aside to let it thicken up.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest to combine them and to get rid of any lumps in the flour (this is a substitute for sifting, so think "airy").
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, milk&vinegar combo, and lemon juice until very well combined and a little frothy.
  5. Dump the dry ingredients into the wet ones (can do this half at a time or all at once, doesn't matter much) and fold gently to combine. A rubber spatula is helpful here. When the dry stuff is all coated in the wet stuff but still lumpy, throw in the blueberries and fold so they're evenly distributed. If you see pockets of flour as you do this, gently break them up and incorporate them into the batter.
  6. Divide the batter among the 24 muffin cups, filling them nearly to the top. Bake for about 20-24 mins, until a toothpick inserted into one of the middle muffins comes out dry.
There's my muffin, alongside my bar study books at the kitchen table. And that's the timer to tell me that I have 1 hour and 35 mins left of studying torts, before I move onto practice questions, then going over practice questions, then studying some Mass state stuff. Oy. Did I mention the 8.5ish hours I'm still meant to do today? I'm going to study a bit into the wee hours and then pick it back up tomorrow and keep on truckin'.

A few days ago I was pretty ready to just kill myself and get it over with, but I am in reasonably good spirits today and I'm really attributing it to (1) working out really really hard the last couple days and (2) a wee bit of sunlight. My hope is that this more positive outlook, Vitamin D infusion, and heightened blood flow to my brain will all help out in the not-failing-the-bar department, but we'll see. I just didn't expect to be this worried about it, but the stakes feel very high. However, even if I fail, and even if I then lose my job and become homeless because there's no other job I'm remotely qualified for that could help pay my crushing, crushing debt, well it would at least mean that I do not have to be a lawyer anymore. Because obviously what I really wanted all along is to be legally-educated and then go to culinary school or some such thing. What I mean to say is, I will keep on going and figure it all out if it comes to that.

AND I lifted weights today like a TOTAL BADASS. I squatted 95 pounds! I don't know if that is actually a lot, but it sure sounds like a lot to me and it is the most I've done. It just kind of took me a while psychologically to realize that this is something I am able to do without injuring or embarrassing myself -- I'm doing it in the Smith machine, so I don't have to feel like I'm going to drop a barbell on my neck and have to hope my little brother sees and comes to the rescue.

That's all from here. I'm home all day long now so I'm going to start doing more food photos, but it's going to be pretty boring the next week as I try to push through and pass this em-effing exam. And then I'm going to drink all of the martinis in the world!

PS Hi Angie if you're reading this! Your shout-out totally made my day!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Summer-summer-summer time!

Summer has come to Boston, at long last. It is HOT.

Which is why it's totally obvious that yesterday would be the day I decide to make risotto. Standing with my face over a steamy pan of gooey hot hot deliciousness in 90 degree weather is kind of cathartic, in a covered-in-sweat way.

So, what has happened in the last month? I actually ran that 7.5-mile race I mentioned in the last post! I know! Even as I was getting in the car at like 7:45 am on the morning after my grad party, I was like "really?" But yes. There was no real reason not to, since though I ate tons of delicious veggie sausage, chips and dip, etc. etc. and had a few beers, I crashed out at 9 pm so I woke up super rested at 6, with loads of time to get myself to Cambridge for the New Charles River Run. My goal was to average less than a 12 minute mile, since that's generally my long run time at this point in my training, and I totally succeeded, averaging an 11:36 pace and not walking at all, except when I sort of trotted through the water stands that were every 2-4 miles.

Running is still going on, and I love it more and more all the time. Casey, I feel you on the treadmill speed control thing, but since it stopped raining here every day I have been running around the old high school track, which is made of soft red rubbery stuff that is awesome for joints, and I am actually faster on the track. I probably don't run at a consistent pace, but I time each quarter-mile, so I can stay on track for my speed goals. The bad news, however, is that registration for my half marathon (Boston Oct 11) sold out on the first day and I was holding back hoping I'd convince my little brother to sign up too. So, I'm going to have to figure out a new race, which may be Philly Nov 22, or Manchester NH Oct 18, or Staten Island Oct 11, or maybe I'll just wait until the Disney Princess race in March, which I also better sign up for soon if I'm going to commit. It's just hard for me to pull the trigger, especially knowing that it's unlikely I'll convince anyone to go with me. C are you into half marathons? I will totally fly to Minnesota to run one.

Meanwhile, bar study and general avoidance of fun. I get up, I study a little, I go to the gym or track, I study a little more, I watch a lot of tv, I go to bed thinking that yet another day has gone by and I'm still not going to pass the bar! Ugh. While it is true that 92% of people passed the MA bar last year, that's not very reassuring when I'm averaging really low scores on my practice tests every day. A week and a half to go.


Ye olde work space. The other laptop is my sister's.

And then I'm going to AUSTRALIA!! Bar trip! I'm going by myself for 3 weeks, leaving straight from my friend's wedding in Oregon. Crazy! I am super stoked about kangaroos, koalas, snorkeling on the reef, and maybe even surfing.

But, back to the risotto. I bought some arborio rice maybe a month ago when I was craving paella, which I do not know how to make. But I do know, more or less, how to make risotto, so that's what it was. I still reallyreally want to make paella (this one) but that'll have to wait until after July 30 when I'm a free lady.
Add Image


Other foodage:


Apple & Almond butter. Actually kind of not as good as apple & peanut butter, but I am really digging almond butter on toast.


Iced coffee! Still making that superb recipe from the previous post.

Monday, June 22, 2009

June 22, 2009

As I write this I'm watching Run, Fat Boy, Run, which is kind of reminiscent of my own running training. Slow, out of shape person, often in ineffective and/or ridiculous-looking workout clothing, tries earnestly. I don't have a pudgy old Indian landlord or a chain-smoking reedy gambling addict pushing me along, just my own need for personal validation and lack of recognition of the probable long-term impact this is all having on my joints.

Anyway, despite the comedy of errors, or whatever it all is, I'm supposed to be running in a race this weekend, a 7.5 miler in Cambridge, Mass. What I didn't think about when I signed up for the race was the fact that my homecoming/graduation party is on the day before the race. My dad has already bought a case of wine, a million bottles of beer, and enough cheese to kill me 10 times over. So, there is a significant likelihood that I am going to be unable to run due to post-cheese coma or hangover. Also there's the fact that I've hardly run at all in the past year. However, I've done two 5-milers on the treadmill in the past couple weeks, along with a few shorter runs, and I feel generally good. The t-mill is obviously not as high-impact as pavement, but for me psychologically, being able to bust out 5 miles on the thing means I've broken through a huge barrier. The variety of cable TV watching options at my new gym is probably to thank for that.

So, that's happening. I'm running a bit, and I love it despite the awfulness of treadmills. Must find outdoor routes, probably over on the rail trail a couple towns over so I don't get hit by cars while running. I just got back from a couple days in NYC that were basically an orgy of bagels and martinis, followed by a massive Father's Day brunch yesterday, so I'm trying to recalibrate myself here and eat a lot of veggies today.

In other big fun food news, I finally got around to trying this recipe for cold-brewed iced coffee that I've been meaning to make for ages and ages. I mentioned it to my mom yesterday and magically she pulled the necessary equipment out of a cabinet. I hadn't even thought to ask if she had a non-electric coffee maker stored away somewhere, since I'd never seen one, but she did, so I was able to throw it together immediately. I ran out to Trader Joe's and picked up some fresh-ground organic sumatra and mixed 1/2 cup of that with 4 cups of cold water in ye olde coffee pot. Stirred it around and put it in the fridge overnight to brew.

And this morning, this is what I ended up with, after straining the grounds out twice. It smelled fantastic, but tasted slightly weak to me at first. But as I had more of it, I decided it was not too weak. Plus, I have a bit left over so I can add that to the brewing water for tomorrow and it'll just get stronger and stronger. Too bad it's freaking freezing here and not iced coffee weather at all! I was wrapped up in a shawl at class today drinking this stuff from an insulated mug.
Before I ran off to class this morning I also had my now-usual breakfast of soy yogurt with Kashi Go-Lean Crunch. This isn't my favorite breakfast of all time--I really miss my banana-spinach smoothies, but I haven't bothered putting the olllld blender here to the test with that. Plus bananas go so fast in this house that I have only bothered trying to buy them once. We'll see what happens with all that, and maybe the veggie smoothie breakfast will return since it does make me feel more alert and vitamin'd-up all day.

And I packed up my morning snack: a scrumptious organic apple and pack of almonds. I've been listening to Jillian Michaels podcasts like it's my damn job (available here, under the Sunday column) and she is all about the organics, and she's got me mostly convinced. I think I'm probably going to end up buying her new book which is all about maximizing/controlling your metabolism by cutting out food and environmental chemicals that cause bad side efffects.
Packed lunch, too, which I usually chow on in the car on the way home. A hummus, tomato, parsley, and sprouts sandwich on Trader Joe's flourless sprouted wheatberry bread, and some organic baby carrots on the side. This bread is the best bread of all time. It isn't for everyone, I guess, since some friends I've recommended it to have really hated it, but I started buying it like 4 years ago and I honestly don't even like non-sprouted breads anymore except after I've toasted the hell out of them. They're too squishy and sugary.

Back to the compulsive listening to Jillian Michaels podcasts, though, she is a pretty awesome motivator. Really, I've been kind of struggling with stress management since I left NY, and listening to her makes me feel more grouunded. Truly, taking the bar exam is not going to be the worst thing that's ever happened to me, and the shitstorm of my law journal editorial board transition is going to be ok and is not all my fault. I'm going to work on being more present and not engaging in escapism (hello, binge drinking and all-day tv-watching). And dealing with this crap so that in a month and a half it will really ALL BE OVER OH MY GOD.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Back! (sort of) With Rhubarb!

Oh jeez.

So I've been in crazypants suburbia for 2 1/2 weeks now, and I keep buying groceries (seriously, buying and buying and buying, at like 5 different stores) but mostly I haven't been cooking very much. I've been hanging out with the wee siblings, reuniting with friends, watching the Red Sox, attending my college reunion, working out at the so-much-better-than-stupid-Columbia gym, and oh yeah sort of studying for the bar exam. Oy.


Look, it's Maddy! She is one of my all-time heroes, and she gave a freaking amazing talk at S'Wellesley Reunion. Definitely the highlight (well, ok, basically the only part I went to).

ANYWAY, the point of all this is, I am trying, sort of, but I'm not going to make blog posts about how tasty Kashi frozen dinners are (they really are--why is Kashi so much better than everyone else at everything?).

This little bowl of deliciousness is a work in progress, but basically you can't go wrong with a pile of strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, and oats.

Strawberry & Rhubarb Crisp
Based loosely on the recipe for Double Crunch Bumbleberry Crisp, at http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/recipe-cobbler.html
  • 1 1/2 to 2 lb fresh rhubarb, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 lb fresh strawberries, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp arrowroot (could substitute cornstarch or tapioca for this)
  • 1/4 cup canola margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  1. Toss the rhubarb and strawberries with the sugar in a large bowl and leave it alone for 30 mins to a couple of hours to work its magic.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350*
  3. Put the now-syrupy mix of rhubarb and strawberries into a 9x9 in baking dish, sprinkle arrowroot powder on and mix around. You could add the arrowroot before or after you put it in the dish, but I forgot to add it until it was into the baking dish and it wasn't a problem.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the margarine, oats, flour, and brown sugar with your hands or a wooden spoon until it's crumbly and relatively homogeneous. Then sprinkle it evenly over the fruit.
  5. Bake for 45-60 mins, until the rhubarb is tender and the whole house smells like amazingness.

Lessons learned: rhubarb takes a super long time to cook. I sort of knew this, but for some reason I was still following a non-rhubarb recipe in part and only cooked it for 30 mins originally. Big mistake. The bowl of stuff I had at that time was amazing but some of the rhubarb wasn't done so I threw the rest back in the oven.

Also, more thickener! The 1 tiny teaspoon of arrowroot I put in was definitely not enough. I didn't want it to be too starchy, but I think syrupy-ness is an asset here so probably more like 1-2 tablespoons would be ok.

They still have good rhubarb at the supermarkets around here, so I think there's a pretty high probability that I'll make this again very soon so I can try to improve it.

I failed to make it to class this morning so now I'm trying to work out a plan to get to a night class in a couple hours, and I just devoured a (microwaved) sweet potato with black beans and Trader Joe's plain salsa.
And I still had some photos on my camera from the last time I made pizza . . . I brought my remaining packets of yeast home so I think there has got to be some pizza in my future. If I'm feeling extremely ambitious, I may do a few vegan pizzas for my graduation/homecoming party in a couple weeks. Now, off to hunt for a BarBri class and a parking place! I am really sick of having to ride in with my parents at the crack of dawn, so I think I may go check out several other locations this week and next week. It is an exciting life I lead, for reals.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Returning soon, and good news!

The blog I mentioned a couple weeks back when I was making garlicky tofu, which had previously been taken down off the internets, it lives! Here is the original garlicky tofu recipe: Tofu con Mojo de Ajo. I can't wait to make this again with the real guidance that I could only barely remember from 3 or 4 years ago when I read this recipe.

I've been at Chez Mom&Dad for something like 4 days now, and I've done shockingly well at eating healthfully, but haven't cooked anything interesting so far. Mainly I've been having a bit of what my mom cooks (whatever's vegetarian, which generally means a wee bit of a veggie and a wee bit of some pasta) plus some additional item like a Sunshine Burger or Trader Joe's Thai Dumplings. I've been reacquainting myself with the concept of microwaving, after many years without one. (Lesson learned: it's convenient but tends to ruin nearly everything.) And one of the memory cards to my camera seems to be busted, so my attempts at taking some photos have not worked out. But I'm thinking by this weekend I should actually be operational with a bit of cooking and some photos. Mainly I really want to make THIS. And pizza, and kale, and something interesting with beets. I have gone a little bit overboard with the grocery shopping since I've been here. It's the combination of needing to nest in my temporary home and the extreme joy of being able to go grocery shopping with a car. You can take the girl out of the suburbs, but well, you know the rest.

And now I'm up too late looking at recipes and about to crash out on the couch which is theoretically verboten (the parents don't like it when I sleep on the couch, but I'm sharing a room with my sister, which is wildly inappropriate at our age, and I am approaching my limit with that).

One last thing -- I haven't had a drink since Friday! That's practically a week! How about that. I half-expected to go through physical withdrawal from not drinking after the intense celebration and goodbye drinking over the last few weeks I was in NYC, but thankfully it seems I did not actually become chemically addicted to the large amount of beer and vodka I consumed during that time. I did dig my martini shaker out of a box tonight though, so the week of drying out may be coming to an end relatively soon. Summertime!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

May 23, 2009: So Graduatey, and Totally Zonked

Well, as expected, the graduation was exciting, but very tiring, and now it's 2 days later and all I've managed to do was sleep, eat, watch a lot of movies, and (sort of) book my movers. And packed 1 and a half boxes. I'm moving in slow motion

I don't really have any photos from the past 2 days, mainly because (a) I do not want to even think about most of the horrible, celebratory stuff I've been shoveling into my face and feeding to my friends, and (b) I wasn't really with it enough to take any pictures. Too bad, as well, because actually dinner last night was terrific, courtesy of my roommates N and S, who threw together a delicious meal of strawberry-avocado salad (ooh), and an Asian spices rice pilaf with great big thick asparagus (ahh). And beautiful presentation as well, but you'll just have to take my word for it.

Meanwhile, a few days ago I was thinking I'd whip up a few dozen cupcakes for my grad party Thursday afternoon. Of course I got through one batch and gave up, but they were pretty special:
Yes, that's blue cupcake batter. I ran out of red food coloring, and it occurred to me that I'm probably not packing up my tiny food coloring supplies to bring to a new place, so I may as well use whatever's left. So, Blue Velvet Cupcakes. And then the next day when I went to make frosting, and my whole family was running around like crazy people, I accidentally started making buttercream instead of cream cheese frosting, so that's what we had. They were a hit though, and everyone seemed amused, rather than disgusted, by the bright blueness of the cupcakes. They went pretty fast and the party itself was lovely. Most of my favorite folks, from law school, college, high school, and other eras, were able to make it, and a good time was had by all. I ate a lot of cheese. (Bad quasi-vegan!)

Yesterday, I brunched with the family before they left, and listened to them go on and on about how shockingly expensive everything is in New York. I just feel like a jerk when they say stuff like that, since I'd chosen the brunch place, obviously. It is not an expensive brunch place, but it is true: New York is expensive compared to just about anywhere else. I heard similar reports from friends with suburban parents.

Today I brunched with my mentee from the Law School Women's Association, who is a lovely and amazing lady, and this was sort of our big goodbye since she's got 2 more years of school here and I'm off to BOSTON (woot woot) next week. I wish I had a photo of this one, because it was pretty. "Olive Eggs" from Cafe Fresh on Amsterdam Ave at 121st Street. They were just 2 eggs cooked over hard in olive oil, then plopped onto a large and luscious brioche roll with a bit of cooked spinach on top, and home fries and a salad on the side. Definitely recommend it.

Meanwhile yesterday I had moved the pizza sauce from last time I made pizza from the freezer to the fridge, thinking at some point this weekend I'd do pizzas. So today was the day -- I made the dough this afternoon and whipped up some tofu ricotta (sans basil this time because I didn't feel like going to the store for it).

On the left there is fresh tomatoes and baby spinach, with a few white onion bits left from the other one. On the right is yellow peppers and white onions.


Nom nom nom nom. These pizzas are good. I had some concerns about them, mainly because I let the dough sit after the second kneading for about 3 hours instead of the 2 that I'd planned. Because I fell asleep, which also meant that I was kind of groggy and unenthusiastic when I went to stretch the dough and put on toppings and stuff. So it was all thick in some places and kept getting holes in other places, and I just couldn't seem to get it to work. But it did turn out kind of fine. Slap some toppings on, whatever.

I did do them one at a time this time, but I think the oven wasn't really hot enough when I put in the peppers and onions one, so that one did come out a bit doughy and I just couldn't deal with leaving it in any longer because the excess cornmeal was burning and smoking, setting off my fire alarm nonstop.

This is my set-up to make the fire alarm stop -- I generally just wave a towel at it (after opening all the windows and cranking my AC up to get more air moving around) but I just couldn't stand there the whole time, so I found my old fan in my roommate's room and employed an old trick.

Anyway, the tomato and spinach pizza turned out spectacular (this is what I always order if I'm getting a pie from a pizza shop) and the peppers and onions pizza is very tasty but probably needs a couple minutes in the toaster oven to reach its full potential.

And maybe there will be more posting this weekend/next week. I do have a lot of food (grains and stuff mostly) that needs to be cooked or thrown away so I should get to work on that. It's just hard to figure out how to put it all together, when everything is kind of unrelated. But I'm also hoping to bake some bread. Maybe I'll bake loads of bread and give it out as gifts, so I don't have to worry about these last 4 packets of yeast that are still sitting in my fridge. We'll see how ambitious I manage to be in between packing up my whole life to go into storage and tying up loose ends at school and journal. I can't believe this major era of my life is really ending!

Tonight's plans:Dirty vodka martini, Mad Men. If I could be smoking a cigarette and wearing a retro housewife get-up too you know I would be. This show, well, I keep giving it one more try and I guess I do like it, but I do sometime suspect that the point is just to give writers the chance to come up with snappy sexist and anti-Semitic one-liners. But the wardrobe and hair (and drinks) are pretty awe-inspiring.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Good Day!

Howdy howdy. Sooo busy this week! I am balancing cleaning my apartment with attempting to put together a plan for summer and fall, attending fun graduation events, finishing up some important work, spending time with friends, doing lots of fun new york stuff, catching the series premiere of Glee last night! (Who doesn't love Jane Lynch? She is so amazing. I hope the show is a lot about her.)

Today, I get my degree! And a certificate in international law, which is kind of less useful now that I'm pretty sure I don't want to do international law, but at least I've got that as a little feather in my cap since there are no real "majors" in law school. There was a graduation this morning for everyone who attends Columbia, which I skipped since my family's not here and it sounded kind of boring. My fam gets in tonight in time for dinner at my favorite greasy Chinese place.

ALSO today I found out that I have been offered a totally awesome job for fall in Boston, which is great but kind of confusing because I reallyreally want to go to San Francisco but I'm not sure I'll hear from SF jobs before tomorrow when I have to respond to this offer. OH HARD CHOICES WITH INADEQUATE INFORMATION. It makes me a little nuts, but at least I know for sure that I have at least one really good option available. I will have work!

And then I made black eyed pea and quinoa croquettes from Vegan with a Vengeance. Because I cooked the peas and the quinoa yesterday and couldn't really think of when I'd make them if I didn't do it this morning.
These are made just like veggie burgers, by mashing beans and grains together, adding some spices, and dredging them in breadcrumbs. Then they're baked for 40 mins, but they could also be fried and might be better that way because of the added richness and crunch from frying.

They were . . . meh. I didn't have the dried basil or the paprika that they called for, so I subbed in rosemary and a dash of cayenne along with the thyme, soy sauce, and olive oil. They were just kind of too spicy, in the sense of too many competing flavors. And the recipe calls for serving them with a sort of mushroom gravy, but I don't like mushrooms. I tried one dry to try to figure out what I'd want to dip them in, and settled on marinara sauce (Newman's own roasted tomato). This was a reasonably good combo, but I want to play around with this recipe and try to make it into something I actually really like. I just love croquettes and I love the idea of making them with beans instead of salmon or tuna.

And, since I probably won't have much to report for a couple of days since I'll be busy graduating, here's an old photo I just found on my computer: Pierre, the peep with a beret, courtesy of Jacques Torres. And that's my little brother there in the background on the left cultivating his internet addiction on my netbook.