Monday, March 29, 2010

Deviled Eggs

Last week we had potluck, but without a full kitchen, it was a bit more of a picnic. I decided to make deviled eggs. I can't remember making them since I was a kid, so I found a recipe online:

I remembered having some crunch to in the ones from my childhood from pickle (maybe that's a southern thing?), but I didn't want to add pickle to the chipotle eggs. Instead I opted for adding some scallion. I made a half dozen eggs a few days ahead to test out the recipe. I used 1.5t of chipotle (about one pepper) and 1.5t of the whites of scallion, finely minced.

These were pretty tasty (we ate all 6 eggs that night), but decided it could easily use more chipotle, more crunch and some more zing. For the crunch I added a bit more scallion and didn't mince quite so finely. For the zing, I added fresh lime juice.

The final recipe:
18 eggs
2T of chipotle
2T of scallion minced
~1C of mayo
juice from 2 small limes
Cilantro leaves to garnish

Hardboil the eggs. Split the eggs, scoop the yolks and mash them (before adding the mayo- learned that the hard way), mix with chipotle, scallion, mayo, and lime juice. Scoop back into the egg whites (scoops looked better than squirting it in from a plastic bag). Garnish with cilantro leaves (or greens from scallion, if you don't like cilantro - like me).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An Ras Mor: Race Report

Boston loves its St. Patrick's Day. It also loves its running. The two combined have resulted in various fun runs complete with runners dressed like leprechauns and followed by green beer. One of the largest in the area is held in Davis Square (my neighborhood).

A few months ago, I saw a friend comment on FB about a race, An Ras Mor (they all have Gaelic names) in Central Square (3 squares from Davis). I assumed, that was the race I remembered and that it must have moved cause Central is larger than Davis. I signed up Paul and me.
A few days later I realized my mistake. The race at home was Ras Na hEireann. It was still being run, just outside my door. And although it would have been temporally possible to run both races, my shins would not have been up for it. So I opted to just do the An Ras Mor and pass on the other one.
An update on my shins: My shin splints started acting up again in January after a week of particularly agressive mileage. I cut running for a week. Got new shoes (it was really past time). Started seeing a "Neuro-Fascial Therapist" aka "the Witch Doctor", and started running for 10 minutes at a go, always after warming up on the bike, adding 15% per week and never running two days in a row. It's actually been easier to stick with this routine than I thought. I've also signed up for a 2 hour running form seminar next week. The witch doctor has given me a handful of stretches (that feel like neural stretches, not muscular ones) that I do daily. I also see him regularly, and he does some pretty serious massage on my calves and feet. I'm pain free, but I still feel like I'm not 100%. I can usually feel what I can only describe as tension in my left shin. I've discontinued strength training for my calves since the current hypothesis revolves around imbalance between calf and shin, quad and hammie and so on. I continue to run, a little bit at a time.

This week, I was up to running 26 minutes in one effort. Which is good since 5Ks typically take me around 25. In fact, I haven't run a 5K in what feels like forever. I can't even remember running one in Brisbane. The last one I can remember was in Cairns. I ran somewhere around a 24:30. I wasn't expecting to run that fast this time around since my run training in the last 2 years has been so hit and miss.
Back to the race. Saturday is race packet pick up day. It's categorically miserable out: mid-30s and it's been raining for what feels like years. Roads are flooding. Oh and it's windy. Paul and I went to pick up our race packets, and I ran into my old massage therapist from years back. I've been meaning to look him up again. He truly has magic hands, so seeing him seems like an omen. I have to do this race (oh, plus he was one of the organizers, and I'd feel bad pulling out now). Paul, however, doesn't feel this way. He decides if it continues to be miserable, he would prefer to stay warm and dry on Sunday morning.

It turns out this would be a good thing for both of us. Had Paul come, we would have run together, holding a 9 minute-mile pace. Since he didn't, I could run at my pace, which I hoped would be closer to an 8 minute-mile (~25 minutes total). The weather persisted, and despite having brought dry clothes for the post race festivities (i.e., beer), there was no place to stash the bag. I ended up having to leave it outside, up against a building that shielded it, somewhat. from direct rain. I was shivering and soaked before the race even started, and just anxious to get moving.
When the gun finally sounded, it was a relief. The race itself ran from the Asgard up Mass Ave toward Harvard and back again. If you're familiar with Central square, it was actually a really nice course. There are so many landmarks to work with. The first mile came and went, and I swear the pacer said I was running 7:45. That felt great, a sub-8 for the first mile, I was sure I'd slow down as I got tired, so good to get that first one in.
In these sorts of races, I feel like the first mile is just sorting people out, you're jockeying for position, passing, getting passed, there's a lot of movement. Then things just settle down. You find the group of people who are your pace, and you guys for the most part hang together (unless there's a hill to sort out the strong from the weak). So a mile in, I felt like I had found my pack, but I was wrong. I'd see some one ahead of me and think, "ok, just hang on to that person," but a minute later, I'd find myself passing them. Then I'd pick the next person. It didn't occur to me until well into mile 2 that I hadn't found my pack, in fact I had just continued picking people off every step of the way. There was no pacer at mile 2, but my watch read 15:something which meant that I was still better than my 8 minute-mile pace. Then it was all about determination. The road had a gentle slope down to the finish, and I could easily follow the landmarks. First the Plough and Stars bar, then City Hall, next the T stop, then the Middle East restaurant, the fire station and that was it. When I turned the corner for the last 0.1 miles, I could see the finish clock. I was going to finish sub 24. It was amazing. I've definitely never run a sub 24.

Coming around that last turn.

My official time was 23:38. That means my pace was 7:37, smashing 8 minute miles. I was elated, but cold. I found my bag, which had managed to keep my clothes dry. I changed my shirt and wrapped up in my winter coat. I didn't bother to change pants and shoes, cause I didn't want to find a bathroom to change in. I didn't want to wait around to enjoy the beer in the rain. I was happy enough with my race.

I hope that this is an indication of good things to come from all the hours of winter training I've put in and carefully managing my shins. The Witch Doctor claims that doing his stretches will improve my speed drastically. I'm still skeptical, but I suppose if I keep having good times, I might be convinced.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cooking from the pantry, not the recipe

I enjoy cooking. It didn't always used to be that way, but during college, my tastebuds finally started to expand what I liked, just like my mom always said. Perhaps leading the way was beer, but that was quickly supplemented with things like vegetables, fruits, herbs and later seafood(!) Even with as much love as I still harbor for cheese, I shudder to think of how many grilled cheese sandwiches I ate that first year at college.

Along with a taste for these new foods came a desire to learn how to make more than a packet of ramen and access to a kitchen. I started experimenting. At first there were some disasters (I still can't eat cilantro), but slowly the disaster to delicious ratio decreased. I'm still not great at following recipes.

Paul and I have changed our diets around a lot. We eat A TON of protein, and we eat it 5 times a day. We try to eat fish, scallops, turkey. We eat more red meat than we probably should, but it is tough to get protein in every meal without eating it. I've even been dabbling in chicken, something that bucked the trend and I stopped eating a few years ago.

Yesterday I decided to make steaks for me and Paul. But we eat a lot of protein, pretty much straight up without much else going on. I decided I was going to make mushrooms and deglaze the pan to make a sauce for the steaks. I wasn't exactly sure what to deglaze the pan with. I know that some recipes use wine, but we didn't have any wine. I didn't feel like looking for more inspiration from the internet, but I did have some beer left over in the bottom of a growler.

Beer, wine, they're pretty close. I like beer. Ok. Steaks done, mushrooms done, pour in the beer. Smells good... but tastes awful. The beer is super bitter. I cook it down some more, add some more seasoning. It just never gets any better. Perfectly good mushrooms completely ruined by beer. Who would have thought?

Monday, March 08, 2010

The trouble with the trouble with living in sin

Obviously, it's been a while. Posting to Shelby Apples was way easier than this blog because (1) I had all those funny Aussies to remark upon and (2) cause there are real troubles with living in sin that I don't want to post about. But I do miss blogging, even if it's only for myself. So, I've decided to redouble my efforts and focus on the aspects of attempting domesticity.

This week, Paul and I attempt to be crafty.

Paul's playing on a local volleyball team, and the tournament they were playing in this week required that every member of the team wear a numbered jersey. Numbers need to be at least 4" on the front and 6" on the back. It's Friday afternoon, and the tournament was Saturday morning. All of the other guys on the team had some old shirt that met the requirements, but not Paul. So, we decided we'd just make one.

First to Target to find a dry-fit shirt. I had my own doubts about attempting to iron on iron-on numbers to this type of shirt, but couldn't argue with not wanting to play in a cotton t. Then to Michaels, a store that pretty much epitomizes everything that we are not, from the rows of silk flowers to the carts of scrapbook stuff: Everything is ornate, and most of it already resembles junk. They have iron-on numbers, but the largest ones are 5". They have an empty rack of 8" numbers.

Plan A isn't working out so well. We ask a very unhelpful shopboy (and who can blame him really, he works at Michaels) if there are any other numbers. No love. We call another Michaels to see if they have 8" numbers in stock. Nope. Hmm.

Plan B: let's paint them on. There's an array of paints here next to the iron-on letters, and after sifting through about a dozen rows of bottles we find some non-puffy, non-glittery white spray paint. It claims to be a screen printer in a bottle. Brilliant. We can do this. Of course it's the only can of white they have. So we grab a yellow can too for good measure. Now to find a stencil.

Of course those don't come in greater than 3" numbers. No matter, we can make stencils, just need to print out the number and an exacto. A helpful shopboy suggests we get some thicker paper from the scrapbooking aisle to make the stencil. OK. We're good: paint, exacto, paper, stencil spray adhesive. We optimistically head home to start in on our project.

We choose a font, get the size right, go to print and only the front number prints. Now we're out of toner. Plan C: free hand the stencil. So glad we chose number '1'. We test out the paint on a piece of cardboard, it sprays. We're good. We spray the shirt and the paint manages to both dribble onto the t shirt and spray our dining table. Quick clean up, and we try again (this time with the whole t-shirt haloed with trashbags. It's still dribbly. In the end, we use paper towels to spread the paint around. It looks pretty haphazard. But it will do.

Paul was allowed to play in his homemade jersey. For the next tournament, they'll have their professionally printed jerseys, so this was both the maiden voyage and farewell to the homemade jersey. And hopefully, our last foray into craftiness for a long time.

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