Triumphant return to cooking

After living in the residence hall for a year working as a Resident Director, Mr. and I have returned to the land of adults.  I work a mere 40hr/week 8am-5pm job that, so far, is incredibly satisfying and interesting. This is such a delightful change of pace from the 60-80hrs/week 8am-10pm that ruled my life during the last academic year. My new job and apartment mean I have time and energy to re-invest in my marriage, myself, my friends, my family, and my cooking and running!

While I’ve done some baking and basic stuff in the kitchen since we moved in, it has been a busy summer/start of the academic year and I am only now feeling truly settled in. The blustery days and nights of fall have begun and it makes me want to get adventurous in the kitchen. I’m nursing a foot/knee injury that I obtained from running the Bellingham Bay Half Marathon in late September, so I have a few more weeks to wait until I can pick back up on after-work runs.  So, my next go-to for burning off the days’ frustration is cooking.  I feel the stress and strains of the day melt away as I chop, stir, and learn new techniques and recipes.

In order to get my culinary juices flowing I’ve turned to CookSmarts.com. I recently discovered this site and decided to try out a month subscription. At only $8, I am hoping this will be a jump-start to my return to the kitchen. After dorm food and eating out for most of the last year, my food ideas/planning skills are rusty. This site has lots of great features including meal plans, shopping lists of ingredients, videos, and general cooking resources.  So far, some of it seems geared a bit more towards cooking/kitchen novices – but maybe as I explore more that will change. I will continue to update you throughout this first month and let you know what I think. (I’m in no way affiliated with CookSmarts, nor am I being compensated for a review… this is just me tellin’ you what I think).

Last night I made salmon en papillote with a puree sweet potato soup.  SO freakin’ easy and tasty. The recipe said it would take 40 mins to make and that was spot on. We were sitting down to eat in about 37 minutes. First, I started the sweet potato soup.  A very simple, but delicious, dish. Saute onions and garlic in a sauce pan. Peel and chop up sweet potato – add to the sauce pan. Add chicken stock to cover potatoes, then boil till soft.  Use immersion blender, or regular blender to puree it all then put back in pan and salt/pepper to taste.  I used my food processor to puree which can get messy.. so start with the actual chunks then slowly add in the broth. It turned out like this:

puree

While the potatoes were boiling and softening I prepped the fish and threw it in the oven.  This process was relatively easy but making the papillote packet for the first time meant I had to pay attention.  Cooking en papillote is a technique where you wrap up the food in a little packet bake it.  This lets the food steam cook with whatever natural juices and/or added marinade/fats you add in… plus it is adorable for unwrapping.  I did not take pics of the whole process but, shit, you folks know how to use google!

My salmon fillets were apx .75lbs each.  I prepared the marinade as per the recipe (dijon, maple syrup, balsamic, oil)  and laid lemon slices along the top, then folded the papillote as directed.  It looked like a little calzone.  And, since it was salmon in there, I was technically in the low-cal calzone zone.

Baked at 400 for apx 12 mins (adjust as necessary for thickness of fillets) they turned out like this:

wrapped fishThe lemon and maple syrup scents filled the house when I opened the packets. The lemon slices make that fillet look huge when in reality it was a super tiny lemon 🙂

fish unwrapped

Add some sparkling water and a warmed mini sourdough loaf and we ate like kings and queens last night:

breadplated

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Drooling

These are the newest member of my training team – Brooks Ghost 6! Now if I could just find the time between the new job and the moving to get my buns out for a run in them!  Tonight for sure – no excuses and rain be dammed. 20130815-070731.jpg

Aren’t they gorgeous!!?  I’ve been running on Brooks Glycerine 10s since January and after my long run two weeks ago I just knew they were shot.  The bounce was gone, they felt flat and heavy. I put about 250 miles on those shoes and they are tired and spent.  I went to get new shoes and needed to special order these because they are an 11.5.  Oh, huge feet, why do you do me like that?! I was tempted to just buy the 11s that were at the store and not have to wait 4 days, but I’m so glad I was patient.  I got to do a farewell run on my Glycerines with my running buddy, MT, last weekend. The 8 miles seemed like a fitting send off and I’m ready to lace up and head out with my cushy, wonderful Ghosts! Gotta break them in before the half in September!


Embrace Your Pace

I run slow as shit.  So what? Who the hell cares?

One of the challenges on my journey to embrace running and being a “runner” has been an increasing self-consciousness about my speed. Throughout the last year, my goal was mainly to increase my stamina and distance and my speed never bothered me much.  Now that I’ve achieved many beginner goals with running, I’ve starting to think more about speed as an aspect of my running and looking at ways to speed up just a bit. Now, I am not interested in achieving a 6 minute mile tomorrow, or ever really, but as my fitness increases, speed is one measure that I find helpful and motivating.  My running family is so good to politely wait for me at finish lines and are always happy to cheer me on as I shuffle across the line, but it would be cool if they didn’t have to wait too long for me!

Part of what I enjoy about running is the plodding along and the time it gives me to clear my mind and observe.  I am a somewhat high-anxiety, high-energy person and running is a time where I reflect and slow my brain down a bit.  The thud of my feet on the ground and the rhythm of my breathing consume my attention and I can feel that day’s concerns, frustrations, and worries sloughing off my shoulders step by step.

I’m currently training for my second half marathon and I’m actually finding that my slow and steady speed is beneficial in many races. I chug along and very often catch up to people who start off too fast.  I ran my second 10K this past weekend, the Anacortes Art Dash, and found that in the last two miles I truly was the tortoise plodding by those who’d over-spent their energy in the first four miles.  It was a 10K PR for me by a few minutes and that felt good.  But more than that, I’d tacked on a mile before the run to make it my longest consecutive run to-date.  I was surprised at the amount of energy and pep I still had at what was cumulatively miles 5-7.

I found this article several months ago and I occasionally go back to it to remind myself that my pace is my pace and that I’m a runner no matter what.

http://runnersconnect.net/coach-corner/so-what-youre-a-slow-runner/?awt_l=CGgCQ&awt_m=3XEeg.hsRg5ttIP

Won’t you join me? Embrace your pace and stop apologizing for being “slow”.  You are holding no one else up, forcing no one who isn’t willing to join you, and most importantly, doing what is best for your body, mind, and heart.


June 30 Day Challenge

So I created my own 30 day challenge for this month (a few days late)! I borrowed ideas from other challenges around the interwebs. As I being my half marathon training I’ve been reading about how to rehab my ankle and fend off other injuries I’m prone to (plantar fasciitis and shin splints) so I can stay on track and healthy. I picked lots of jumping activities for my June challenge because they not only strengthen and improve calves, but they will help me with running speed, rehabbing my ankle, and serve as a reminder to stretch, stretch, stretch.

Will you follow along on my Jumping June?

Jumping June


13.1 Done and Done

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Last Tuesday I was nursing a swollen, bruised, sprained ankle and fretting that I might have to put the kibosh on my plans to complete a half marathon that was just 5 days away.  Today I am still nursing my ankle but I’ve proudly added sore quads and a pinky toe blister to my ailments thanks to successfully completing my first (yes, saying “first” implies there will be others!) half marathon.

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This is me nervously waiting to start the race.  I signed up to “walk” the half marathon feeling like that was somehow less stressful and less of a gigantic commitment. When I registered I figured I’d do a run/walk combo but was hoping to run ~8 miles and walk ~5.  After I twisted my ankle I expected that if I was even able to join the race, my run/walk ration would be the reverse: ~5 run/~8 walk. But either way, I was just very happy my ankle progressed enough through the week that I was even able to entertain competing

As I stood gently bouncing and waiting for the start of the race while chatting with my running buddy (and biggest cheerleader), the rain started.  A drizzle at first, but over the next two hours, it just dumped and dumped. Aside from wiping the rain from my watch to check my pace, and squeezing the brim of my hat so the water stopped dripping like a waterfall in front of my eyes, I seem to remember only occasionally noticing the wetness. I ran totally zoned-in (not zoned out). I ended up running 8-9 miles of the race and walking the rest which was exactly what I’d hoped for!

I hit no walls (pretty sure this was due to the high adrenaline).  I experienced only one tiny bout of feeling tired (damn you gigantic hill between mile 9.5 and mile 11). I did not get any cramps, or strains, or pulls. I only gagged for a minute at mile marker 5 as I choked down a blackberry flavored goo. And as I came down the beautiful hill at mile 12, I saw my dear sister and mom jumping up and down and cheering me on; it gave me a light-as-air feeling and made the last mile just… cake (or is it icing?).

ImageMy first race medal is gorgeous.  I feel, for the first time with zero hesitancy, that I am a runner. My sense of impostership, which has been waning over the last few months, went out the window as I crossed that finish line. It is with this newly cemeted identity that my heart is especially heavy after the bombings at the Boston Marathon yesterday. The day before I felt so wrapped in camaraderie and love and passion and guts and I today I am hanging on to that feeling as tight as I can. I feel so lucky to have a home in the running community and I send my love to all others who are feeling the pain of this tragedy.