Monday, January 17, 2011

One run does not a runner make

But it does sort of make you hurt.

Especially when the socks you had thought were adequate decide to fall down repeatedly during your run so your Achilles tendons end up being rubbed raw.  And your left knee hurts inexplicably as it hasn't hurt since high school- even though this is not your first run since high school, just the first in a while and hopefully the first to establish a pattern of healthy, regular running.

I almost weenied out- I really did.  I put on my sports bra and managed to find my running pants.  Zipped up my hoodie and took Luna out to play some chuck-it and hopefully make her poop prior to the run so I wouldn't have to run holding a baggie of poo.  In spite of the balmy temperatures, the wind was....staggering.  It made me go upstairs and get my WSU beanie and some fingerless gloves.  Luna still wouldn't poop in spite of much chuck-it-ing (normally a pretty good method of getting things moving) making me think she had probably gone before breakfast without me seeing it.  Then a huge blast of wind somehow managed to blow me out of the yard and all the way back up the stairs and into the house saying "What am I thinking?!  This wind is crazy!  Do I really want to start my scheme TODAY?"

Then I looked at Luna.  She was looking at me with the saddest puppy eyes in the world.  Eyes that said, "I have not yet been satisfactorily worn out by my chuck-iting!  I was promised a run!"

And so we went.  1 minute of running, 2 minutes of walking...repeated 10 times.  I discovered the trail is quite muddy right now.  I discovered that it is difficult to keep headphones in while wearing a beanie.  I discovered that the stop watch app I downloaded to keep track of minutes liked to turn off the screen only during the minute runs- never during the 2 minute walks.  But Luna enjoyed herself thoroughly.  And I survived it.

Endomondo Running Workout: "was out running 1.78 miles in 32m:18s using Endomondo."


P.S. Endomondo is really awesome.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Running?

I have never been a runner.  I mean, I ran track in Jr. High- sprinting because distance running was decidedly beyond my capabilities and the capabilities of my sport's bra.  But I have looked with envy at those who run and who derive a sense of fulfillment from running.  So even though I get shin splints and side aches and whenever I try to run my lungs feel like they may collapse, I still want to give it a fair chance.

But how to begin?  I realized this fall that I enjoy trail running much more than street running and even bought myself some trail running shoes to further that purpose.  Luna loves to go for a run and I know she would appreciate it if I ran regularly and took her with me.  However, it is the middle of winter in Pullman and although we are having some sort of tropical heat wave (50 degrees??  WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?!) it is still crappy out.  Today, for example it is alternating pouring sheets of rain and huge blasts of wind that make all my windows rattle.  Luna ran outside to go potty this morning, started happily trotting to the yard and stopped short when she got a huge gust of wind in her face that made her ears stand up and her lips flop around.  She turned around and found a more sheltered place to piddle and was still quite damp from the driving rain when she came inside.

So running right now is decidedly unappealing.  But I need to start at some point.  I read numerous cooking blogs and many of these healthy home cooks also have healthy hobbies such as running and yoga.  I followed a link to Runners World and have since clicked my way around (steering away from half marathons when I started reading things like "start by running 6 miles at 60% of your normal pace.") and found the Beginners section.  There are a lot of great articles in there about shoes and nutrition and motivation as well as common pitfalls and inspirational stories.  This is the gem that I think I found though:

The Runner's World 8-Week Beginning Runner's Training Program.


I think it looks very doable.  I like the idea of having a manageable goal- in this case, work my way up to running for 2 miles at a slow pace (30 minutes of running).  Will I win a marathon at that pace?  No.  Do I need to?  No.  I just want to be more physically fit and maybe have a better chance of surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.  Maybe once I get into the habit of running, I can work towards some bigger goals.  For instance, I would REALLY like to do a triathalon someday.  Maybe even a half marathon.  

For the moment, I will settle for feeling good about myself and making my dog very very happy.  

Also: outrunning zombies.


Friday, January 14, 2011

My house smells vaguely of curry

Last night for dinner I made Curried Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup from the fabulous food blog: Eat Live Run.  It claimed to serve 4.  Instead it made 4 gallons.

Well, I may be exaggerating....but still.  It was quite a bit of soup and a good portion of it is now in our freezer awaiting further rainy days.  But it is so pretty and delicious that I will definitely make it again- just a quarter of it...

Here is the recipe:

  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 (3lb) butternut squash peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbl minced ginger (I found a squeeze tube of this in the produce section and now I need to find many more uses for it- I had forgotten how amazing ginger smells!!)
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup red lentils (fun fact: when you get them wet, say to rinse them, they turn into cement which is very difficult to dump from one container into the next)
  • 1 qt chicken or veggie broth
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
The best part?  You don't have to worry about how even and bite sized your cuts are.  You blend it all together at the end so prettiness in prep doesn't count- it ends up pretty in spite of your inability to cut things nicely!

And now for some pictures of the process:
Some of my ingredients- check out the tube o ginger!
First step: saute the onions in a bit of olive oil until nice and soft

Nice aromatics: ginger and garlic

Dump the garlic and ginger in and saute for a few more minutes- remember that garlic burns a lot faster than onions!

Add the butternut squash and mix it up, then add everything else in with wild abandon! Please note that the lentils are not falling happily into the pot.  No, we had to add some water to the bowl and work loose the now hard-as-rock lentils.  They came apart as they cooked thankfully!
Oooh yeah.  So full of goodness.  Bring this mixture to a boil.

Then reduce heat, cover, and let it simmer away for 20 minutes until the squash and lentils are nice and soft.  I was dubious that it would only take 20 minutes.  And I was pleasantly surprised when my spoon hit a squash chunk and it melted in half.  Perfect!

This is tricky.  Transfer the soup to a blender.  Now: blend it up.  The exciting part of blending hot soup is that if you fail to remove the middle part of the cap to let steam escape, the entire lid will try and explode off of the blender.  We kept the clear thing partially on and covered it with a dish towel.  The spatter is because it is too full- and this was only half of the soup!

All smooth and delicious now!

Second half of the soup ready to be blended.

Look at that technique!  Look at that concentration!

We transfered it all back to the Dutch oven because it is prettier there.

All gone!  The sandwich too!
We made some sandwiches (turkey and cheddar with homemade bread!) and they were very filling so we couldn't eat very much soup in the end- a real bummer considering how much is leftover AND how tasty this was.  I love the kick the cayenne gives this soup and I love the surprising complexity of flavors.  It starts out very squashy and then all the other elements start coming through.  Delicious!  I have trouble eating soup without chunks so bread or crunched up pita chips are a must for me.  This might be very very good with chunks of sausage and maybe some noodles or rice for something to chew on.  

All in all, a great weeknight dinner.  Especially a weeknight that is cold and rainy and crappy.  This is an excellent comfort food!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Utter waste of life? Or productive human being?

This is a question that has plagued me on this, my last vacation of vet school.  I knew immediately that the way the schedule shook out in the end would mean that I will be climbing walls by the time I graduate, but now I am in the last few days of the last three weeks of vacation before I become a doctor...and it is even more scary.

Especially since I have been hard pressed to do anything worthwhile with this free time.

What have I done?  Well, I visited family in my first last week of vacation.  That was pretty good.  On the second last week of vacation I made some awesome bread and did a whole bunch of dishes (although, I am pretty sure that they are breeding, because I am not sure it is humanly possible to have done as much dishes as I have in the past two weeks and still not be able to enter my kitchen for fear of being crushed under a pile of dirty dishes).  And THIS week, the LAST week of my last vacation, I have finally sent out my resume to my Preceptorship (only 1.5 weeks later than I should have...and I just found out today that I may have needed an extra stamp on there.  Potentially embarrassing).  And TODAY...after much agonizing, after sending approximately 324973205 emails to Dr. Bryan, after reworking my resume and cover letter and business card again and again...I have sent out my first official plea for employment.  At a clinic in Silverdale that sounds, frankly, awesome.

I am trying not to get my hopes up too much, because I know the job market is crap and I know there are many other fish in the veterinary sea, but I can't help it.  I want a job and I think that this one would be really amazing.  So my hopes are high even with a healthy dollop of pessimism and an even healthier dollop of realism.  Regardless, please please please keep your fingers, toes, and eyes crossed for me.  And if I don't get this particular job, I will grind my teeth and determine that it was not meant to be.

Dinner tonight: Curried Butternut and Red Lentil Soup.  Updates later.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dinner tonight

This blog entry is brought to you at the request of my husband, who wanted to make sure I recorded the recipes I used so he could eat it again in the future.  Isn't that sweet?

So the menu was:
*Oven-fried chicken
*Quinoa with apples and cranberries
*Leftover french bread (home made!)

Unfortunately this was all eaten before I thought to take pictures, so you will just have to imagine the delicious images in your mind.

The Quinoa is what knocked Andrew's socks off, so I will start with that.

  • 1/2 c Quinoa (rinsed)
  • 1 c chicken stock (home made in our case.  That makes me sound so much more gourmet than I probably really am!)
  • 1/2 of a granny smith apple chopped into reasonable sized chunks
  • A good handful of dried cranberries
  • A shake of cinnamon (1 tsp if I had to guess)
  • A dash of cayenne pepper
  • A squirt of honey
All of this is brought to a boil and then allowed to simmer until the liquid is all absorbed and the grains are translucent and the outer shells have separated.

If I had to do it again, I may have given an extra dash of the cayenne and added some salt- it was just a bit too sweet I think.  But Andrew made numerous happy noises while eating it and insisted repeatedly that I write down how I did it.  Maybe I shouldn't show him this entry...I wouldn't want to become redundant!

Now for the chicken, which was MY favorite part of the meal.
  • Two chicken breasts, pounded flat and cut in half to make 4 manageable chunks
  • Salt
  • Chile Cocoa (this was in Andrew's stocking and I was excited to try it out)
  • Flour (I used whole wheat flour and threw in some flax seed meal)
  • Bread crumbs (I made this with the heel of my first- very dense- loaf of wheat bread.  I filled it out a bit with commercial bread crumbs and also threw in some flax seed meal because we need more omega 3s in our life)
  • Oil
  • 1 egg, beaten with a small amount of water
The base of this recipe is from Cooking Light- it gives me my most consistently cooked chicken and is delicious.  I use it all the time- adding various flavorings to the flour and bread crumbs (I often put garam masala in the flour, or I put mustard in the egg wash and dried onion in the bread crumbs.  The possibilities are endless!  This is the first time I have pre-flavored the chicken with anything besides salt). Making sure the chicken is nice and thin means that it cooks quickly and evenly so you end up with perfectly done chicken that doesn't get all dried out in the process.

You pat the flattened chicken dry (actually, I patted it dry before taking the mallet to it since the bag I was defrosting it in had a leak and it was wetter than most chicken) and salt it a bit.  Then sprinkle the cocoa mix over the first side pretty thickly.  Dredge the cocoa'd side in the flour and cocoa the exposed side since it is staring up at you anyway.  Then finish coating the entire thing in the flour.  Shake off the excess flour and dip it in the egg wash.  Then dredge the chicken boobie in the bread crumbs.  Repeat for all of the chicken chunks.

Meanwhile, of course you've been heating some oil on the stove in an oven-safe pan and it is all hot and ready for your breaded chicken boobs.  You have also very cleverly pre-heated the oven to 425- good for you!  Fry the breasts until one side is brown and tasty- it doesn't take very long at all.  Then flip the chicken over (I sometimes have to add a bit more oil at this point because I never put in very much to begin with and it disappears fast) and pop the whole kit and kaboodle in the oven for 10 minutes.  Voila!

Andrew thought the chicken was just a bit dry (a result of the breading- the chicken itself was quite juicy and perfectly cooked.  Thank you Cooking Light!) so we had a spoonful of apple butter on the side to dip it in.  But I really enjoyed it just alone- you could really taste the cocoa and the subtle bite of the chile side of the mix.  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A good meal with friends- that was practically free!

Last night I made a free dinner!  Scrumptious split pea soup (it said scrumptious on the soup mix!) with a loaf of Parmesan peppercorn bread.  You may be wondering to yourself, "How was this delightful sounding meal free?"  Well I'll tell you.  The soup mix had been kicking around in our cupboard for, well, forever.  The ham we added to the soup was leftover from Thanksgiving- we had frozen it almost immediately (and, coincidentally, was free to begin with because it was from Andrew's work).  The bread was made with ingredients we either had on hand or (like the bread flour and yeast) were going to buy anyway to fuel my bread maker habit.

We invited the Ramseys and the Siders over to share in the feast since a) we like them all a lot and b) this was clearly going to be far too much food for two people to eat.

Let's start with the amazing bread.  And yes, it WAS amazing.

All the ingredients in the order I have to put them in the machine (water first, yeast last)

Here they all are!  You can't see half of them because they are layered carefully under the flour.

Here she is!  The machine herself!  ...the cats don't trust it...
Now let's look at how pretty the soup looks!  ...okay...it actually doesn't look that pretty.  Look beyond the fact that it is a hunk of meat sticking out of some murky looking water, and realize that it is a huge ham oozing non-stop flavor into the already flavorful broth of a split pea soup mix and understand that our house smelled amazing.
Not pretty to look at, but VERY pretty to eat.  In fact, there were no leftovers.
 Let's go back to the best part now: the bread.  Because I made it.  And that is pretty awesome.

Getting all puffy and sprinkled lovingly with asiago (which ended up smelling very odd as it cooked)

Even more puffy!

All golden-brown and delicious!  
Kinda sunk down in the middle...ah well

I won't lie, it was pretty popular.  Those last pieces were gone mere seconds after I took this picture.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Obligatory New Year's Post

New years.  That magical time of year where millions of people around the world vow to lose weight, work out more, work less, and make tons of money.

Last year, my goals were as follows:

I can safely say that I accomplished two of those goals.  Over the course of the past year I managed to lose almost 20 lbs (of course, thanks to the holidays and the orgy of over-eating I just engaged in, I am back to the "need to lose 5 lbs" point).  I also most certainly did NOT go crazy and run people over.  I have had some fairly spectacular breakdowns over the past year, but those happen.  Especially in the final year of vet school. Was I a better wife though?  I sort of think it is unlikely.  Sorry Andrew.  :(

Onto slightly less moody subjects, how about I think about some goals for THIS year?  This new year of 2011.  My year.  Here it goes...

Shiny new goals:
  • Become a doctor (ZING!)
  • Find a job in Kitsap County and have an income such that I can pay off my gargantuan student loans AND buy groceries with enough money left over to occasionally buy books without going into guilt seizures.
  • Re-lose 5 lbs
  • Never buy bread again.
Wiki-WHAT?  Never buy bread again???  That's right people.  I got a bread maker for Christmas.  Christmas afternoon while Andrew was cleaning the entire kitchen and house and talking loudly about how we needed to clean things, I nodded gravely and then proceeded to make a huge mess carefully measuring ingredients out for my first loaf of bread.  (Did I mention that I should try to be a better wife?)

I wish I could say that my first loaf was the pinnacle of human achievement in bready goodness, but it was actually pretty dumpy looking and quite dense.  I suspect that this was due to the fact that my yeast has been kicking around in the freezer for a year and may have finally given up the ghost (although up till this point it was doing fine in pizza and bao dough).  It may also be that I didn't use bread flour- just all purpose since that is what I had on hand.  

The bread tasted okay though.  I have had it as a grilled cheese sandwich as well as a pbj sandwich and they were both fine.  My next loaves will be better though.  Provided I remember to get some fresh yeast and bread flour!

**Edit: additional goal is to be more proactively involved with the household budget.  Also to agree with Andrew's goal: To not suck.