What to eat, what to eat….

I had the eternal dilemma after today’s 17 miler – what should I eat?  The problem with the long run is nothing really sounds good.

It ain't pretty - but cupcakes can frequently cure what ails ya. This is a famous Georgetown Cupcake (and gal pal, Jamie)

Today, I grabbed a class of chocolate milk and slammed it – not because I wanted it, but because I thought I should.  My husband offered to get me “whatever I wanted.” My response was “Taco Bell.”  What?! Why was that the only thing I could think about stomaching?  Ridiculous! I don’t think I’ve had Taco Bell in over 4 yrs. I will say – those tacos perked me right up. Is there a right and wrong way to eat after a massive run? Probably.  I think the only true way to mess things up for yourself is not to eat or drink anything.  Take this opportunity to treat yourself – everything in moderation though. If I want Taco Bell after a 17 miler, I wonder what I’ll crave after next weeks 18? It definitely won’t be White Castle – those things are nasty (just saying).

I should note, my running pal Meghan and I split a glazed donut at mile 10ish.  There’s a reason I keep quarters in my running pouch.

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When no means no: What to do when your body hates you.

Tonight was one of those nights – who am I kidding?  This week was one of those weeks! I’ve been fighting a cold (and generally winning) over the past week. The rule is – if your illness is from the neck up, it’s safe to run. If it’s from the neck down, hit the couch. My symptoms included clogged ears, stuffy nose, and general sinus rebellion. Runners generally don’t rest well. I’m no exception.  The 15 miler on Sunday was at a snail’s pace. It was a miracle that I finished. My 4 milers on Monday and Tuesday were ok. Tonight, I had to say the dreaded words “guys, I have to walk.” My body not only said “no” it said “no and I hate you!” In my defense, it was 93 degrees with an “air quality alert for sensitive groups.” I’m sensitive. I cry at humane society commercials. That counts right?

Sugar's bod says "no" to her a lot. Poor kitty

I’m here to tell you:

1. Sometimes runs just don’t work out

2. Everyone will still think you’re a badass if you have to cut your run a little short

3. Maybe you need a rest (gasp, I know that’s a bad word)

4. Your bod will like you better if you don’t abuse it when you’re sick

5. Sometimes cutting yourself a break can recharge your emotional running battery

In reality, my running team probably didn’t mind the walking opportunity and heading back to the barn early. 6.6 miles happened tonight and not 8.  I rewarded the effort with Chipotle.


Bourbon Chicken – apparently “the best thing I ever made.”

Dinner at my house is usually of the boring variety.  My dinner staples are tuna noodle, turkey meatloaf, Johnny Marzetti, grill stuff, and lasagna. Tonight, I spiced it up.  My husband was finishing up the pergola (it looks sweet if I do say so myself) so I thought I would make him something decent.

I thought a picture of the pergola was much more attractive than a picture of chicken cooking. In general, I think all non-professional meat pictures are gross. (Just my opinion)

I went rogue on this recipe and mixed it up. The inspiration was from Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Cook.

3 tablespoons “EVOO” as RR says

1 red onion slap chopped

3 cloves garlic grated

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1.5 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons Worcestershire

2 tablespoons of hot sauce (or as badass as you would like it). I still have hot sauce from our honeymoon in Belize – it’s serious!

1/4 cup brown sugar

a firm handshake of lemon juice

3 cups of chicken stock (if you don’t have it – just use the equivalent in bouillon cubes)

1 tablespoon of cornstarch and a 1/3 coffee mug of H2O

1 pack of chicken breast (cubed up)

1/4 cup bourbon (glug glug glug)

Heat a tablespoon of the olive oil in a deep sauce pan and cook the onions and garlic until tender. Add salt and pepper (just the regular amount you add in about everything). Stir in tomato paste and paprika. Stir until combined and add Worcestershire, hot sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, chicken stock. Bring to a low boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.

In a frying pan, cook the chicken in olive oil.  When it’s completely done, add the sauce on top of the chicken.  Turn off the heat. This is where things get crazy: Pour in the bourbon – don’t mix.  If your bourbon is crappy like mine, this trick wont work. (This is RR’s idea – not mine)  Use a long lighter or match and light the sauce (flame it).  While it’s on fire, return it to the heat and let the flame die away.  When it’s done burning, it’s time to eat.  As I previously mentioned, my bourbon is crappy and the alcohol content probably wasn’t high enough to flame.  If this is your case, or if you’re scared of burning off your eyebrows – just add the bourbon in, keep the heat on, and simply cook out the alcohol.  Just let it bubble for about 8ish minutes.

Whisk the cornstarch and the water together in the coffee mug (this is my mom’s cornstarch receptacle of choice). Pour it into the sauce/chicken and observe the magic thickening properties of cornstarch.

Serve over cornbread or red beans and rice. Blob some sour cream and cheese on top if you’re feeling extra zesty.

Chris threw his fist in the air and said “this was the best thing you ever made!” – Awesome.


What to do with a massive zucchini

What to do? What to do?  You’ve grown a massive zucchini. How does this happen?  Either you purposely grew the monster to enter it into the fair (like my mom) or it was hiding under your towering tomato plant. Regardless, it resembles more of a pumpkin than anything else.  Before you get too excited thinking you have hit the zucchini mother-load, read on.

My mom's blue ribbon zucchini. 9.9lbs! My running shoe did not get a ribbon.

Let’s get down to business.  An overgrown zucchini should be treated like a squash.  The skin is thick and tough and the seeds are huge!.  Your best option?  Get out your food processor, peeler, spoon, freezer bags, sharpie marker, and get to work. Peel the zucchini as best as you can.  Use your sharpest knife and cut it in half long-ways. Scoop the guts out like it was Halloween and shred it in your food processor.  If you don’t have a food processor – just throw the zucchini in the compost.  It’s too tough and too much work to do by hand.

Look at your favorite zucchini recipes and freeze the appropriate quantity in bags for use later in the year. Mark with a sharpie.  Don’t fool yourself thinking you will remember if it’s one cup or two when you have a hankering for zucchini bread in February.

This is my favorite recipe: Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3 eggs

2c. white sugar

1c. veg oil

2c. grated zucchini

1ts. vanilla extract

2c. flour

1ts. baking soda

1ts salt

1ts ground cinnamon

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

350 degree oven.  Grease 2 loaf pans (do not forget this step or you’ll be sorry). Combine eggs, sugar, oil, grated zucchini, vanilla, and cocoa powder in mixer (mix it, duh). Once mixed, add flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Use a spatula to fold in chips. Bake for about 50ish minutes.  Do not trust my time instruction because my oven is terrible.  I would suggest setting your timer for 40 minutes and keep checking it every 5 after that point with a knife.  If the knife comes out clean, it’s done.

Ta Da!

It's like a brownie, but not disgusting. Lets face it - brownies can be kind of gross sometimes.


Pantalones en fuego: grilled corn salsa

Hot hot hot!  Hold on to your hats – or your pants as the case may be.

2 dozen ears of corn

Random mix of hot peppers from the garden

2 red peppers

3 jalapenos

4 scotch bonnets

2 habeneros

2 tiny purple peppers

1 head of garlic

3 c. tomatoes

3 limes

2 bunches of cilantro

2 Tb salt

1/2 c. apple cider vinegar

1 onion

Loyal assistant, Shawn

This recipe is a mash-up of several I found on the internet.  I had the urge for a smokey hot, mix.  This salsa is the ticket.  Shuck the corn and brush with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Keep the fire low when cooking on the grill.  Flip frequently for approximately 15 minutes until you have a nice char. Do the same with the whole peppers and the tomatoes (the tomatoes need only about 5 minutes).  Stab each tomato before putting it on the grill so they don’t explode.

When the veggies are grilled, set aside and allow everything to cool.  Take advantage of the grill being on and cook up some italian sausages or something (I was starving!)  Wrap a clove of garlic in foil with some olive oil.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes to roast. Once everything is cool to the touch, zip the corn off the cob.  Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers and peel the tomatoes.  Slap chop (infomercial style) the hot peppers and chunk chop the tomatoes. If you’re feeling zesty, slap chop the onion too (or regular chop if you’re a loser). Cut up the roasted garlic and combine everything into a massive pot.

Safety first!  Although you probably have the urge to keep this salsa as fresh as possible and not cook it – don’t!  The salsa must be hot when you put it in the jars or else you will die.  Well, you probably wont die, but your jars will likely explode when you put them into the water bath. No one wins with exploding jars (believe me, I’ve blown up a jar or two).

Add all the ingredients into the pot except the cilantro.  Bring to a boil and add the cilantro at the last-minute.  Salt to taste. Keep a delicious Eddy’s Coconut Popsicle ready in case your mouth catches on fire when you sample.  Use your tried and true water bath method when canning.

A farmer once told me: "If you trip on the way from the field to the house after you picked some corn - your corn isn't fresh enough." Moral of the story. Buy local, fresh corn from the guy that grew it. Hopefully he didn't trip on the way to the market.


July garden update: it’s not all pretty

I promised at the beginning of this blog, to tell the entire truth about my household shenanigans.  July had  ups and downs in the garden. It was a gift and a curse.  (Note the Jay Z Blueprint 2 reference).  Here’s the rundown.

1. Amazing purple beans.

2. Huge kale (too much kale – who wants some?)

3. More cucumber beetles than I have ever seen in my entire life.

Neem oil - schmeem oil. It didn't faze these guys.

4. Excessive pepper plants – most peppers will be taken to the fair next week.

5. Squash and cucumber ROT! Yes, rot is a technical term.  All zucchini, squash, cucumber, and pumpkin plants have been ripped out of the garden due to disease. This was probably related to either cucumber beetle or squash borer.  I took pictures, but I am saving them for a blog post on disease: BTD (Beetle Transmitted Diseases)

6. Huge tomato plants.

Square foot gardening

7. Squirrels are picking tomatoes, taking one bite, leaving it by my backdoor, and picking another (repeat cycle).

8. The squash “alien/zombie” plants (as mentioned in an earlier blog) are huge – but may be all talk and no action.  They are on borrowed time.  I’m seriously considering ripping them out and making more room for parsley.

9. The heat has required deep watering two times a day.  The tomatoes seem to love it.

10. I have resisted “conventional” chemicals  and stayed organic – but it sure was tempting to whip out the Seven Dust and fry some bugs.

 


Blueberry Hot Pepper Jam

Last year my favorite jam was a peach jalapeno.  Aunt Luanne gave me a massive bag of hot peppers when I was at the farm last weekend.  As everyone knows with fresh produce , the clock starts ticking as soon as those peppers leave the plant.  I had 2 containers of blueberries that I bought last week. Blueberries + Hot Peppers = Love.  I think I may have found this years new favorite jam.

Code Red Warning!

For goodness gracious – wear gloves!  One little drop of hot pepper juice in a small paper cut and your hand burns for the rest of the night.  Never ever ever touch your eyes.  Pretend hot peppers are like poison ivy.  They can seriously rock your world. (Visualize me giving you a serious face and pointing my finger directly at you).

1 cup hot peppers cut small (pulse them in the food processor if you have one). If you want this super hot, leave the seeds in.  I left them in and it’s not for the weak of taste bud.  I personally love it super spicy.

3 cups of blueberries

6 cups of sugar

2 packages of liquid pectin

In a large pot, mash-up the blueberries and the peppers with a potato masher over medium-high heat and bring it to a bubble. Stir in the sugar and mix constantly.  Once it’s to a full boil again, stir in the 2 packages of pectin and cook for an additional minute.  (Full boil means that the bubbles cannot be stirred down). Remove from heat and process jars.

Of course – follow the rules for safe food preservation in jars. 10 minutes is all it takes in the water bath.

Jar of blueberry hot pepper jam dumped over goat cheese = instant “fancy” appetizer.  I will probably eat it for breakfast too.  Nothing opens your eyes in the morning better than a little spice.  Zing!

I’m definitely entering this into the fair.  I hope the judges can handle some heat.