Posts Tagged With: food

Mexican Mayhem

Ever since I married into the family I have been a guest at my in-laws Italian Christmas party. Held every year on the Saturday before Christmas, the Italian side of the family gathers for feasting, cookie swapping and hooting over lucky scratch tickets. It’s a thing. It’s their thing. Now it has become my thing. Kisa and I will attempt to host, for the first time in history, The Party.
I am undaunted and unfazed by this turn of events. I’m approaching this party like I planned my wedding: by analyzing how it’s expected to go and doing it all backwards. My first dance was the last dance. My cake was a pie. My champagne toast was many Tuaca shots. I wore boots and a 13 horned hat. I did not throw my bouquet. I almost threw up from fear but ending up laughing outloud.

The Italian Christmas tradition is turning into Mexican Mayhem. We won’t be serving prime rib or swampy vegetables simmered too long. Instead we’ll have a buffet of mix and match fillers: chicken, beef, sofritas, shrimp, salsas, guacamole, rice and beans to fill tacos, burritos, quesadillas. A margarita bar and chili-chocolate chip cookies and cheesecake for dessert. Mustaches, sombreros, and holiday music south of the border style. That will teach ’em to nominate the Kisa and I to cook!

In other news (what else? Running!), here’s the lowdown: 71 miles to go. Covered so far this month:
12/1 = 6.55
12/4 = 9.15
12/6 = 7.00

I’m on track to finish this thing. I’m still not 100% confident and that makes me talk out loud. I ramble on about the numbers constantly. One thing I need to remind me & myself is not to rant too much around the Kisa. He thinks I’m obsessed. No. No, he doesn’t think. He knows I’m crazy. He watches my mouth and checks my eyes for lies. I know he’s looking for happiness; To make sure this is what I want & I’m psychologically sound doing it. Well, you know what ZZ Ward says, “‘Til the casket drops…’til my legs just break…” I’m going to keep going.

So. Having said all that. The agenda for this week: 6 tomorrow & 9 on Sunday. In between, baking Mexican shortbread and spicy sweet chocolate chip cookies to test. Buenas noches.

Categories: Confessional, Hilltop, Holidays, running | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Final Day of Week One

I can officially say I am done with Week One of the Stronger Challenge (LiveStrong). Did I have a favorite routine? Not sure. Ask me again at the end of Week Two, after I’ve done every routine a second time. I know Ignite is low on my list because I just can’t explode with movement like I would like to. It will get easier, I’m sure. It has to!

For the last Day (Day VI) of the challenge we revisited the “soldier” routine. I’m still laughing my way through the superman punch but the long jump/pedal back was easier and I kept up with the split leg burpees this time. I’m still nervous about my knees so the “make it rain” squats (which look downright silly, by the way) worry me. I go as gentle as I can but I still fear damage and that LAST thing I want to do is hurt the run. And you know how much The Run means to me.

And speaking of the run. Today is a day off from the Stronger Challenge but. But! But, it’s my scheduled long run day. YES! I finally will get to run over five miles. I haven’t seen five miles since the LV mara NINE weeks ago. Because St Pat’s is a 10k I honestly won’t feel good about this race until I have run at least six again. And hills! I neeeed to work on hills! Oh! and speaking of St. Pat’s! I think I have someone to run with! His name is Jay and NOT the Jay you think you know. ūüėČ From here on out I’ll refer to this Jay as Millz. More on him later…

But, St Pats is months away…For now let’s get back to the Stronger Challenge. For this first week I give myself a solid B+ for the exercise. I didn’t miss a day and I kept up with the run as well. Things to improve on: don’t skimp on yoga, get in 13 miles running & work on plyo! That was the good news. The bad news is that I absolutely sukced at the diet part of the challenge. I’ll give myself a D because I never got my hands on figs, I didn’t keep up with every menu and, dare I confess? Yes. I had donuts for breakfast two days in a row. Yes. Donuts. They are from a teeny tiny Polish bakery I adore just up the road. End of story. Things to improve on: try harder to have the meals as prescribed and NO donuts. HA!

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Refuel and Run

Day IV of the Stronger Challenge. “Refuel.” Still a good workout only a little more low key. Low intensity cardio and strength moves. Right up my alley, especially when it’s a run day.
My observations so far: Nicky is a cool instructor/trainer. Has a lot of affirmations and go-get-’em rally cries. Stuff like, “Sweat is weakness leaving your body!” Luckily, he hasn’t stooped to “no pain, no gain”. Otherwise I would have to reach through my monitor and punch him. I like that he introduces his class beyond their names; tells us a little something about each person (like ex-military, mother of three, former Rockette…that kind of thing).
My trouble move of the workout turned out to be something called a Scorpion. I’ll see if I can describe this thing: basically, you lie on your stomach with your arms out to form a cross with your body. From here, bring your right foot to opposite hand. Can you picture it? In that position it is nearly impossible to tell how far away your foot is from your hand or how horribly wrong your form is (or isn’t). I hoped for the best but prayed I didn’t sprain something in the process. Because this was a 41 minute low-key workout I can safely give it an A-.
The run was good. At first I worried I would be overdoing it but after the first mile I was able to settle down, quiet the mind and just go. I got 4.23 miles in before New Guinea told me time was up. For the record, I am up to 21.8 miles for the 100 mile challenge…with two weeks to go in the first month. Think I can do it? Ha!
Much later in the evening I was able to get in a 15 minute recovery yoga routine. Very simple. My new love is a move with no name. Lie on your back, cross your legs tight, take a foot in each hand and gently pull them up and out until you feel a gentle stretch where you need it most, quads, glutes, calves…It’s a great one to just hang out in. Love it!

The meal part of this whole adventure has been terrible! I’m barely following the suggested menu. I feel like completely giving up for this week and starting fresh on Monday. Today, just to give you an example, I was supposed to have waffles for breakfast. Something about peanut butter and coffee, too. Instead, I had a Belvita breakfast bar and cottage cheese. Lunch is supposed to be this crazy elaborate tuna salad concoction. I’m sure if I planned ahead like a good girl I would be prepared for said salad. But, I’m not. Instead, I have a huge big of mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, a slice of a leftover red bell pepper and a bottle of lemon juice. I think I maybe have a can of tuna in my office desk drawer. I’m really not sure. Dinner is supposed to be tacos. That I might be able to do. Stay tuned.

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Save Your Spot

“We noticed that you signed up for the Terrapin with a race pace that will allow you to be placed in a Preferred Corral. Nice!”

This was the email I got for the Terrapin 5k in Chicago. Later that same day I sent them the results from the Worcester 6k in the hopes of getting a timed corral, if only to not have to weave my way in and around slower runners from the back. Then came along another reason – the time of the race. I could have sworn start time was 6pm. Now I see it’s 6:30pm. That gives me less than 90 minutes to run the race, get something to eat (I’m always ravenous), get back to the hotel, shower, change, and make my way over to the House of Blues for Moe (doors – 8pm). Not impossible but less than ideal, for sure. Lucky for kisa, I don’t primp. Much.

Speaking of kisa, the Knight and moi spent some time saving other Chicago spots as well. Reminiscent of a 3rd grade school trip I took to Boston we mapped out the entire itinerary (minus my mother’s notes on what I would be wearing each day). This became an exercise in where to eat around the city. Kisa, armed with the city map, would tell me what friend-suggested restaurants were local to the activity we had planned and I would dutifully note them in a three-ringed binder. The thought process is we won’t be stuck hungry and not knowing what’s in the area, resort to eating at the first bad place we find. Yes, I know we could Yelp our way through meals but that’s really not my thing. I want friend-endorsed options not determined by strangers on my phone. I won’t give in to the hype of a celebrity restaurant (unless it’s Rick Bayless).

I can’t believe Chicago is less than a week away. Last night as we listened to the Dead in San Francisco I couldn’t help but think about all those happy people, just letting the music take them on a trip. And would my journey take me there as well? If so, save me a spot.

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Crash Course in Chicago

In about a month the Kisa and I will be heading for Chicago…my first time. Like a virgin I am trying to school myself on all things Chi-town before the big event. I’ve looked at this adventure from every angle. Here’s what I know – we only have a week so I have to plan carefully. I am strategizing like a general, coordinating my offense and planning my attack. I want to be a tourist. Completely and utterly without shame. Food, running, culture and music. Not necessarily in that order.

Food: I am big on breakfast. Love, love, love all things brunch. I’m an adventurous eater and crave all things spicy. I already know I want a scone from the Lovely Bakery, anything at all from Salted Caramel, the craziest burger I can find and. And! And of course, a pizza from anywhere (preferably wood fired). Even though beer is not technically something you eat, finding a craft beer brewery is also a must (preferably one that makes a mean smoked porter). My plan is to get a street map of Chicago, determine where we will be each day and find the best? places to eat within walking distance of that address. So, that means 1) the hotel on S. Michigan, 2) Wrigley field, and 3) Soldier Field.

Running: I already know I want to run on the indoor track at my hotel, just to say I did it. It’s a given I will find a way to run along the waterfront even if it’s a mere mile. But, other than that I’m really not sure. According to my training schedule I will only need to find somewhere to run twice: three miles Thursday and six miles Sunday. Piece of cake. Of course I’ll have PT, yoga and strength training to figure out as well but I’m not really worried about that. The gym is supposed to be killer.

Culture: Chicago is known for art. That much I know. I’ve been told I need to find “the bean” and there’s a paperweight exhibit I just have to check out. The millies are supposed to be incredible. We’re going to a baseball game Friday night (Sox vs Marlins). I’d like to see some historical architecture. A rose garden. A wall of graffiti. Maybe take in the aquarium since fish have always been my thing. Other than that, je ne sais pas.

I think music is the only thing we are definite on. The Dead, Moe, more Dead, a little Sunday jazz, and more Dead. In addition I’m hoping we’ll catch a few street performers (like how we stumbled on Pressing Strings in Baltimore). There won’t be time for much else.

In the meantime this student of Chicago is going to watch movies filmed in the city. Maybe one or two of them will spark some ideas. First up: Drinking Buddies, High Fidelity, and the Lake House. Will I learn anything? I am really beyond skeptical… Stay tuned.

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Forgotten Lu’au

I wanted to call this blog the Great Day of Nothingness because I didn’t think anything special had really happened on our penultimate day on Maui. I was ready to call it “Gearing Up To Go Home” because that’s what I remembered. We packed, talked to the tattoo artists at Maui Atomic, we mailed stuff home, we cleaned the condo…Not so. Kisa reminded me we went to a lu’au that night. I’ll get to that later. I think the nothingness is more fascinating. What did we do, besides the lu’au? As I mentioned, we finally found the post office and mailed home treasures. We went to the Maui Brewing Company for lunch. Yummy beer and disgustingly fried appetizers (why do I insist in doing this to myself?). We packed. Cleaned the condo to make sure we didn’t leave anything behind. Found Robbie Big Balls and talked tattoos. I guess it’s because we weren’t doing anything too touristy that I remember that as being a highlight. I think I was tired of chasing the sights. I wanted to just Be. If that makes any sense.

But, I suppose I need to talk about the lu’au. It started off rocky. We had agreed on a meeting time and since Kisa and I were early we decided to do some last day shopping (sound familiar?) We were just wrapping it up, literally, when we got word that the rest of the family was already in the lu’au, drinks in hand. What? What happened to waiting in the parking lot and all going in together? They are the ones who had the tickets. Never mind. It shouldn’t have bothered me, but the situation was very reminiscent of our last full day on Oahu. It was uncanny how similar the situations were. I held a grudge.

The lu’au itself was nice. Seeing the traditional roasted pig was the bomb. The desserts were to die for. The dancing was fun. But, it all seemed a little too frothy. A little too I don’t know what. I think I would have done better with a round of cocktails on the beach…
treatssmile

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Ten Commandments Still Commanding

It’s hard to believe another week has gone by. Where is the time going? This was a good week for almost all of my commandments. There’s always that one that slips through the cracks!

  1. Yoga – I fell off the mat a little with this one. I did some kind of lame stretching after every single work out session (six days this week) but nothing in the way of a formal yoga routine. After my “long” run yesterday I found myself in my favorite pigeon pose for ten minutes. Just sort of spaced out lying there. I wish I could do that all the time.
  2. Run – 10.32 miles this week. Again, not near the 15 I originally wanted, but there is a consistency to the run and absolutely no pain anywhere. Those two things are major and need to be successful in order for this recovery to work.
  3. Elliptical – Just twice. I found myself watching one of those crazy “Housewives of…” shows and decided my life is nowhere near as nuts as those bitches.
  4. Strength training – not with a professional at all this week but managed six days of weight/body specific training. My abs hurt. My arms hurt. My legs hurt. My butt hurts. Everything hurts but in a really, really good way. I think the moving of the winter woodpile added to it. Thankfully, tonight is a night off while I work my second (consulting) job).
  5. Reading – finally set up a good reading routine and have to admit I am totally digging this love story set in 14th century Norway. Who knew? I’m also reading Waterlogged by Tim Noakes, MD. It’s about over-hydrating in endurance sports…
  6. Cooking – the new ingredient of the week is RED quinoa. Made a kickazz salad with quinoa, grilled chicken, cucumbers, leeks, red onion, lime, cilantro, cumin, carrot curls, hot sauce and feta (because I didn’t have a Mexican cheese on hand). I’m sure it would be just as yummy with an Italian spin or even a Greek favor profile. Kisa said, “Yup. You can make this one again.” Not bad for someone who traditionally poo-poos salads as the main meal.
  7. Letters to friends – only wrote one friend this week. It started out as a funny (and a little raunchy) card but I ran out of room so I had to keep writing on another card with a “read second” on the envelope. Then, because I thought of one more thing to say I added a postcard. Someone’s going to have a good mail day soon. LOL
  8. Red hot – did some Zappos shopping for new zippy heels and ended up finding some cool amphibian shoes for HI.
  9. Tattoo – rethinking product placement.
  10. Courage – scheduled the helicopter ride.
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Where Are We?

We went to see Sean play the other night. It has been awhile. I can’t even remember the last gig, the last time I saw heard Sean. How sad is that? I have been missing the music. That is for sure.

The night started simply enough. Dinner at the Albany Pump Station. If you haven’t been you need to go. For the hoppy people there are plenty of beer selections and for the foody people like myself,¬† plenty to chose from on the menu. We were told there would be an hour wait when we first arrived so the boys ordered brews and I busied myself with texting a friend. I was secretly, no – I’ll admit it, openly hoping he would swing by for a few minutes. It’s been too long. Within twenty minutes we had a booth designed for either lovers or patrons with flashlights. I don’t remember the restaurant being as dark the last time…(?) But, the food was good and the company, even better. We had nachos piled high and amazing sandwiches with fries (with vinegar- only had to ask twice).

While dinner was great it marked the end of simplicity. Sean’s venue, the Marketplace Gallery, was in an interesting location. We had no problem finding the address. We just couldn’t believe where we were. We asked Where Are We? a lot. The area was definitely industrial. Poorly lit streets littered with trash. Not a sign in sight. If a black cat or a ghost had crossed our path I wouldn’t have been surprised. Sean’s website said the show started at 7:30pm and people were starting to pull in and park around us. We hesitantly began to feel like we had the right place. A mailbox inside the door confirmed our hunch and indicated we needed to climb two floors up. We complied still questioning. Where are we again?

If we hadn’t run into Sean in the hall I would have definably had my doubts. Everyone we passed was art personified. Young art. Colorful art. Drinking art. Hip art. Too cool for me art. I felt like an ancient redwood standing in a forest of tender saplings. I felt like I had crashed someone’s going away party. Sean’s hug was reassuring if not his words, “you are really early. I don’t go on until 9pm-ish.” It ended up being more like 9:45pm-ish but it was well worth the wait.

There is something about Sean’s voice that people always rave about. Soulful and sage. He can reach into your psyche and pull out emotions you didn’t even know you had tucked away. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s the songwriting that grabs me tight. The words lock themselves around me until I am constricted and concrete. Frozen to every utterance.¬† I cannot breath for wanting more. ‘Wet’ will always be the song that devastates me. The imagery is strong like whiskey, hard to swallow and burning. Yet, there is a warmth that bubbles from within. I cannot explain it any other way. Until recently ‘Wet’ was Sean’s last song of the set list. After each show I would be sent out into the cool night air with words of abuse ringing in my ears and tears stinging my eyes. This night at the Gallery Sean started with ‘Wet’ as filler while waiting for a friend. I didn’t have time to drink in the poison. Probably a good thing. I did not swallow. I didn’t cry.

The rest of the show was distracted and disconnected. Because I spent most of the night staring at airbrushed images of Jason Voorhees’s face on a toilet seat and a buxom vampire on a skateboard the music took on a surreal quality. From where I sat I couldn’t see Sean at all. It was if he had become an angst-filled devil wailing behind the wall of coffins and caricatures.

The best thing to come out of the trip was hearing new music. Everything Sean touches is Magic – pun partially intended. I dare you to listen to his words and not be moved. I hope there is a new album in the works. Then I won’t be asking Where are We because I will know. Heaven.

Sorry – no set list this time. From where I sat I had an incredibly hard time understanding the introductions to the new songs. As for the “old” songs he busted out Wet, Old Black Dodge, American, Jonathan, Surprise and Night. Definitely not in that order. You can check out a video of American here.

Categories: life, music | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Farm Frenzy

It suddenly occurred to me that I haven’t talked about the CSA all that much all summer. I highly doubt it is from embarrassment over the amount of salsa I have been gormandizing. There is nothing wrong with being greedy when it comes to tomatillos or tomatoes. We have decided our favorite is a roasted salsa verde sauce with tart tomatillos, vibrant chopped cilantro, mild green olive oil, lime juice, roasted garlic and crunchy jalapeno. Seriously. I’ve been having fun experimenting with the different types of salsa I can conjure up, but the real first-time-ever-moment came when I decided to make four different kinds of tomato sauce to freeze for winter. There is something about being able to open up the freezer and relive the warmer months through food. Good, good food. A few years ago my sister and I went blueberry picking. While I only came away with two quarts Kisa and I were able to make them last all winter. Somehow we missed the harvest this year…

So back to the sauces. Four sauces. Plain, hearty, spicy, and roasted. The plain was…well, plain. Heirloom tomatoes, basil, flat leaf parsley, salt and pepper. Simple and very much to the point. Hearty was a bonanza of veggies: carrots, onions, garlic, celery, basil, oregano, thyme, and of course, tomatoes. Spicy was farm fresh jalapenos whirled into a roasted mess of plum tomatoes. Roasted was all of the above packed away in a 425 degree oven for 35 minutes with olive oil, rosemary, fresh ground pepper and a coarse sprinkling of sea salt. With the addition of a wood stove I think this will be¬†one cozy winter.

Fennel. Funky, funny fennel. Last night I roasted a pork loin with fennel, carrots, onions and garlic in a white wine. rosemary and butter sauce. It was awesome. I love fact that every vegetable came from the farm (including the rosemary). Hell, I picked the rosemary myself!

Edamame. The crop seemed to wither on the vine this week so I wasn’t able to pick a lot. With the handful I was able to score I steamed¬†them and tossed it into a mega salad over the weekend. Yummy.

Watermelon. I am not a big fan of eating watermelon sliced. It’s messy and seed-spitting. This year I came up with a simple dessert to stave off the sweltering heat¬† – freezer cubes. Using the food processor I chopped all the melon into slush, strained out the seeds and pulp, added agave nectar and a little lemon juice, poured everything into cups and froze the whole mess in icecube¬†trays. Kisa¬†added the watermelon cubes to water while outside painting but at night we would blend the cubes into slushies similar to italian ices. Yummy. If we were more of a cocktail crowd I bet they would have been good additions to a Cosmopolitan. Or something.

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Bloom

I have this ongoing problem with my husband (and myself). My generosity is odd to him. I, in turn, think of him as selfish sometimes. This is a battle we fight around the holidays every year. Sometimes the problem spreads to everyday life. From October 14, 2006. The problem was apparent even then:

“I am truly starting to come out of my shell. I can feel this hermit being less crab everyday. This morning I woke up on the right side of the bed, the right side of my life. Good mood. Good day. Good deed indeed. I decided to bring some Maine blueberries to the family that runs the sugar shack High Hopes, in Worthington. They have been good to us for years and years. On impulse I wanted to return the gesture. I didn’t want to think about it and didn’t think about it…until my husband pointed out that they barely know us; they might think it (and me) “weird”. Suddenly, my berries looked a little less blue and a little more suspicious. Would they think I poisoned them? Them. See, I don’t even know their names! I faltered and stutterstepped and almost putting the berries back in the freezer. I am too weird for this. I am too weird for me.
Luckily, I regained courage and caring. My blueberries were well received. They prompted a conversation about Maine and Maine living. Did they chuck my gift after I was gone? Who knows. Hopefully, in the end they appreciated the gesture and that’s all that mattered.”

Every since we have moved away we no longer visit the sugar shack. We don’t see the family to whom I was once so generous. In the grand scheme of things, does it matter? Not really. Just thinking out loud.

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