Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall Recipes

Great fall day, which started out with a trail run at Highbanks Park.   Fun group and beautiful run!  

While I was out running and then driving home, it gave me a chance to figure out what I wanted to do with the day.   It has been awhile since I have spent the day at home and done much cooking.   So I did just that.   I opened the windows to let the fall breeze and smells in, cleaned the whole place, and baked/cooked some new and wonderful recipes! 

The first thing I made was a repeat recipe.   I actually tried it last week and loved it!   I had some leftover pumpkin that needed to be used, so decided to repeat the recipe again. . .

(From:  PPK Blog)

Vegan Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 4 dozen cookies
2 baking sheets
2 mixing bowls

2 cups flour
1 1/3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons molasses
1 cup canned pumpkin, or cooked pureed pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
optional ingredients: 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds and/or 1 cup chocolate chips, 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped or 1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350. Have ready 2 greased baking sheets.

Mix together flour, oats, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a seperate bowl, mix together sugar, oil, molasses, pumpkin and vanilla (and flax seeds if using) until very well combined. Add dry ingredients to wet in 3 batches, folding to combine. (If using, fold in walnuts and raisins or chocolate chips).

Drop by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheets. They don’t spread very much so they can be placed only an inch apart. Flatten the tops of the cookies with a fork or with your fingers, to press into cookie shape. Bake for 16 minutes at 350. If you are using two sheets of cookies on 2 levels of your oven, rotate the sheets halfway through for even baking. You’ll have enough batter for 4 trays.

Remove from oven and get cookies onto a wire rack to cool. These taste best when they’ve had some time to cool and set. They taste even better the next day!

**I omitted the flax, walnuts, and raisins and made 1/2 the batch with chocolate chips added and 1/2 just "plain."  Both versions taste amazing!

After making the cookies I decided to try the following two recipes for my evening meal.   I am happy to report that they were both wonderful!

2) Collard Greens with Bacon from Simply Recipes

Collard Greens with Bacon
*Chef's tip: don't overcook the bacon. It should be barely brown around the edges and still somewhat raw-looking in the middle.

4 strips thick-sliced bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small yellow onion, chopped 
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Several dashes hot sauce
1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
2 pounds collard greens, stems removed, sliced into 3-inch-wide strips (can substitute kale or chard)
1 cup chicken broth (or water)*

1) Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Cook the bacon in the skillet until it just begins to brown around the edges, stirring occasionally. Add the onions and cook until they have softened and are just starting to brown.

2) Add the garlic, salt, pepper, sugar and hot sauce. Cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, about a minute. Add the vinegar, bring to a simmer, and cook until the amount of liquid is reduced by half, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.

3)  Add the collard greens and the chicken broth (or water) and bring to a simmer. Reduce the temp to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the collard greens have wilted and have lost their brightness. Season to taste with additional vinegar and hot sauce. Serve with some of the pan juices from the pan.
Serves 6 to 8.

**I didn't have a few ingredients and substitued instead:
1) Shallots for the yellow onion
2) Red Pepper Flakes instead of hot sauce
3) Garlic infused vinegar in place of apple cider vinegar

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Deer Creek Fall Challenge 70.3

Long overdue race report, not sure why, just haven't really had the time or attention to get the report out.   But it ended up being a good day and I want to make sure it is in my records, so here it is. . .

I am not a morning person, so knowing this, I didn't want to drive down the morning of the race.   So, I convinced my mom to go down the day before with me and stay overnight at the Deer Creek Lodge so I could get my race packet, check out the course, and sleep in a little on race morning.    We left in the afternoon and had a quick drive down.   Decided to hit the race area first and pick up the packets.   No worries, there was maybe a dozen people there so it took all of about 10  minutes to get my packet, walk down and look at the swim course, and walk back to the car.  There were some hardcore athletes checking out the water and my mom asked if I wanted to as well.   I am not hardcore, it was windy and a little chilly, so the answer was "naw, I'll be fine tomorrow."     But, we did have some extra time before check in so we decided to drive the course.   I don't do this often mostly because I think it actually makes me more nervous about the race.   However, it is nice to know what to expect, so in this case we did.    Most of the first 1/2 of the course is flat and wide open.    I also noticed alot of chip seal roads, which I hate!    The back 1/2 of the course is a bit hillier, one in particular looked a little more challenging, mostly because it is situated right at the beginning of a left had turn.    Overall, though not too bad of a course but still enough to make me nervous because I have to do 3 loops of it!  

Once we were done with the drive we decided to head over to the lodge and check in.    Once there I told them I had a reservation and they were unable to locate it.  WTH??   I had made that reservation well over 2 months ago.   Unfortunately I had forgotten to write down the confirmation code.   I knew I had saved the email, so they were kind enough to let me use a computer so I could search for it.    Took awhile but I finally found it and I was correct, I did have a reservation . . . .for August  28th, 2010.   Oops, not only had I made it for one month earlier, but apparently I was now a no show, which meant I probably had been billed for it as well.  D'oh!!   Unfortuantely they were already booked for the night at the lodge *sigh*  however, they did have a 2 bedroom cabin available so my mom and I decieded to try that instead!   Whew!    The staff was brilliant and they were able to transfer the money I had already paid for my lodge room to cover the cost of the cabin and then I just had to pay the difference.   No problem!!   

Once we checked in, went back to the lodge for a quick supper and then over to the camp grounds to visit my friends Teri and Janice and their significant others.   They had decided to camp there for the weekend and Janice was also going to do the sprint tri in the morning.    Very nice visit and then mom and I were back to the cabin and I hit the hay early. 

The cabin was very quiet and dark so I had a surprisingly good night's sleep.   I normally don't sleep well the night before a race, but this was quite possibly the exception!    Woke up pretty easily in the morning, ate a quick breakfast and then had mom drop me off at the race.    My mom was to go back to the cabin, check out, and then she was going to golf with some friends before coming back to the race!  

Once again I got to the race way too early and had nothing to do.    Fortunately I found my friends - Jeanne, Rick, Terri, Aaron, and Tani prior to the race and hung out with them for a bit!

Rick, Jeanne, Jennifer and I before the race.

The swim started in waves, sprint distance first divided up into age group and sex, then olympic distance, then the 1/2 distance.   Of course it got started late and it was cold outside.   I actually ended up wading into the water about knee deep because it was warmer, then had to go back to the land because it was a beach start.   The whole time I am waiting, I am getting more nervous.   The bike cut-off is at 1:30pm, it is almost 9:15am before they start the 1/2 group and I am in the last wave for this.   I am not the strongest cyclist so at this point, ever minute counts! 

Finally in the water, waves are choppy going out (we are against the wind) so a little difficult, but once I make the first turn, I find a good path and go with it.  I pass a dude wearing a snorkle at some point - thought this was illegal, but oh well, I pass by him pretty quickly.   Swim seems easy and I am happy with it, get to the other end, make my turns and start heading back.   Hit the wind again and feel like I am barely moving, plus I have to lift my head up pretty far to keep from gulping down water every time I try to take a breath.   The water is shallow enough her that lots of people are not even trying to swim and are getting up and jogging along this section.   This makes me mad and more determined to swim harder and faster.   Finally finish with lap one and head onto lap two.   More of the same and eventually I get the swim done.    I am jogging out of the water and check my watch - 33 minutes (last year at Steelhead was 38 minutes and that was with the current)!   Sweet, much faster than last year.   Right at that point nausea sets in and I have to stop and start dry heaving.   WTF??   This feeling passes and I stand up and try jogging to get up to transition.   Nausea and gagging start again, I step to the side, dry heave some more and the feeling finally passes.    I eventually make it to the transition area - 3 minutes have passed so my "swim time"  ends up at 36 minutes as I head into transition. 

The weather is much cooler and more overcast than I was hoping for, once I strip off the wetsuit I am freezing.   Decide to go for the armwarmers on the bike to help keep me a little warm.   Darn things are very hard to put on though when you are soaking wet.   So, not the quickest transition but fortunately it gave me time to get the nausea settled down so I can also get in some fluids and nutrition prior to heading out on the bike!   After 5 minutes I am ready for the bike!

Guy next to me has an awesome looking bike, but I am happy because I know I beat him out of the water and he had at least a 3 minute start on me if not more!

The bike was fairly uneventful.   3 loops and it was really windy.   Of course the wind changed from a west wind to north by the time I got off the bike, so it seemed like I had a headwind the whole way.    I didn't keep track of my bike splits, but I am pretty sure I slowed down on my last lap, fighting the wind all morning, makes for tired legs.   3:14:14 was my total time on the bike - last year I had 3:30, and I thought it was an easier course.   As I come into transition, my good friend Kathy's boys (Evan and Scott) are waiting for me.   The boys take turns telling me that they came down with their mom to volunteer and they are helping to pass out medals.   Scott then informs me that I almost didn't make the bike cut-off.   Thanks Scott . . .

Coming into transition I noticed how empty the parking lot was and how many bikes were gone out of transition already.   Fortunately for me, all my friends had stuck around to cheer me on and Jeanne even decided to help pace me for the first 1/2 of the 1/2 marathon!!!     Qucik shoe change and bathroom stop and in 2:27 I am on my way. 

Jeanne was a blessing on this first lap.   After being on the bike for >3 hours alone and seeing hardly anyone, I am ready for some company.   The run course is a two loop out and back.   Very flat, which is fortunate for me.   We keep a pretty good pace for the first loop and I drop Jeanne off at the turn around - I would love to have her for more, but she has already run the day before and put in an awesome sprint tri ealier in the day!   I am so glad she was still able to do 6.55 mi with me!    The second loop gets a little warmer - the sun has finally decided to come out.    I am still doing pretty well until about mile 9 and then my breathing gets off track.   I have my inhaler, but I had just used it at transition, so still to early to use it out there.     Instead I start a 5:1 run/walk.    My left hip is also starting to cramp up, so this run/walk pattern helps that too.    After what seems like a very long 4 miles, I finally get to the finish!     2:21:12 for the run . . .

6:19:02 total time!   My time from Steelhead 70.3 was around 6:38.   So, I am very happy coming into the finish because I know this is a PR in this distance and I took almost 20 minutes off my time from last year!  Whoo Hoo!    I was also smiling because I have some of the greatest friends ever.   All of them stuck around to cheer me on at the finish and they found my mom and took her under their wing.    They were great too, everytime they saw me, I heard them and their darn cow bells before I even saw them!    So, a HUGE thanks goes out to Terri, Tani, Aaron, Jennifer, Jeanne, Phillip, and Rick for sticking around after your races.   Also, was pretty cool to see Kathy at the very end and have her put the medal around me neck!

High fives for us, Kathy is in the hat and those are her two boys; Evan and Scott!   Thank goodness for great volunteers!  

The happy finishers;   Rick (first 1/2 duathlon completed), Jennifer (first in AG - oly du), me (3rd AG), Tani (best spectator ever), and Jeanne (first AG sprint tri).

My stats since last update:
9/24: rest
9/25: hour ride (easy)
9/26: Deer Creek 70.3(1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run):  6:19:02
9/27: rest
9/28: 2200 swim
9/29: 30 min run
9/30: 35 minute strength
10/1:  45 minute run
10/2: rest
10/3:  10 mi run
10/4: rest
10/5: swim 2200, strength 35 min
10/6: 64 min run
10/7: 30 min run
10/8: rest
10/9: 12 mi run
10/10:  31 mile ride
10/11:  rest
10/12:  swim 2200, strength 35 min
10/13: 50 min run, 15 core strength
10/14: 30 min run

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Local Matters

October 2-8, 2010 was the Eat Local Challenge for Central Ohio.   There was a list of things that you were supposed to pick 3 things from and try out in the week.   I decided to 1) Go to a local farmer's market and purchase locally grown food.  2) Prepare and share a recipe using local ingredients. 3) Eat out at a restraunt that uses local ingredients.    I am happy to share that I was able to accomplish all 3 of these things and am trying to continue on with these things this week as well!

Last weekend I shopped at the North Market and found some locally grown apples (that looked awesome), onions and greens (spinach and arugula).   That evening I already had dinner plans at Due Amici with friends.   I was pleased to find out that they do use locally produced food and I had a wonderful meal of Pork with Sweet Potatoe Risotto and Asparagus, which was on special for the night!     Sweet - 2 of my 3 goals had been met in one day!  

The next day, I was to have supper with my family.   I have an aunt and uncle (Jim and Elaine) who were in from out of town visiting for a long weekend.   Elaine has some food sensitivities and has to eat a fairly restricted diet that includes no wheat based products and dairy, to name a few.   I figured that this would be the perfect time to try a new recipe with some of the local ingredients I had purchased the day before.  

Using the apples and onion I had found worked perfectly in this Apple and Parsnip Soup.  What was even better was that my aunt enjoyed the soup enough that she copied the recipe for herself!    Yay!  Goal #3 met. 

I had also found another recipe which was really good and could be used as an appetizer or maindish.   I used it as a maindish and served a salad on the side later in the week for one my own meals.    The Brie, Apple, and Arugula Quesadillas were really good and easy to make! 

So, I enjoyed this fun little challange and would suggest that anyone try it around there town.   It is nice to support the local farmers and I think it is a great way to try new things and recipes if you like to cook or eat out!