Chopped out

I’m not even going to try to be witty tonight because all I can hear running through my head is a repeating loop of chop this, chop this, chop this. I never want to see another knife or another veggie again. (I will probably change my mind tomorrow, though.)

Anyway, we had steak salads for lunch made with leftover steak from Saturday night’s grilling:

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Also in the salads: arugula from the garden (10 million times better than from the store — it’s super super hot and spicy), green onions from the garden, chives from the garden, romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, feta, and drizzles of balsamic and herby olive oil.

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Dessert was a teeny bit (like 2 tbsp) of leftover carrot cake oatmeal with extra pineapple, apple, cinnamon, and cardamom:

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Mom and I forged on throughout the afternoon to make enough food for 30 armies to send to my dad’s house: chicken cacciatore, beef-kielbasa-barley stew, and pumpkin grapenut pudding. Mom was in charge. I followed her commands. Chop this, chop this, chop this. At some point, I had a minor breakdown and abandoned the kitchen in favor of a nap on the porch bench. I am not made to be a sous-chef, nor am I made for large-scale food prep.

My dad came over around 7pm to collect the goods, and mom gave him detailed serving and reheating instructions. Dad, I expect a full report as you eat these things!

Sarah Whiting (aka Ting) and her friend Nora came over for dinner. I completely forgot to take people pictures, grrrrr. But I did take food pics. I made chips from the stale whole wheat roll-ups and guacamole from two avocados, black bean and corn salsa, fresh tomato, fat free sour cream, fresh lime juice, and cayenne.

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We ate it all very quickly (a significant portion is sitting in my belly now). We also enjoyed more Golden Star sparkling white jasmine tea spritzers (1/3 tea, 2/3 plain seltzer).

The main course was chicken-pineapple-onion-green pepper-kielbasa skewers. I’m pretty sure I spent hours skewering these things. John started them off in the stone grill outside, but they weren’t cooking fast enough, so we finished the job inside with a quick broil in the oven. Ting and Nora brought an awesome pesto-bean salad with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. The plate:

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The skewers may not have been able to finish outside, but the sweet potatoes did, however, do quite well in the stone grill with perfect char.

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Dessert was fresh watermelon:

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And pizelle cookies:

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Dinner with the girls was so fun — Ting and I needed the chance to catch up, and we had some very interesting conversations, not the least of which was my mom’s recounting of her competitive bodybuilding days. And like I said, I’m exhausted. And stuffed. I’m heading back to NY at some point tomorrow, though I don’t know my exact schedule. And I’m too tired to deal with the bus schedule right now!

I can’t think of a question. What question would you ask now, and how would you answer?

Going local

Before I left for the party last night, I engaged my mom and John in a little bit of product reviewing. I had brought my packages of Newman’s Own Organics Champion Chip cookies in orange chocolate chip and double chocolate mint chip to my last class celebration on Thursday. Due to the high quantity of fresh Italian cookies, my little Newman’s Owns got lost in the shuffle. I felt confident, however, that they would not survive two nights in my mom’s house, and I was right!

Here’s a little slide show of mom in action.

Contemplation:

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Meditating on the deliciousness:

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The cookies were totally demolished within 10 minutes — and I’m pretty sure both bags were at least halfway full when I brought them out! John loved the crunch, and both preferred the orange chocolate chip cookies (the chocolate mint were the first to disappear, though). Success! (And thank goodness I’m off the hook from eating them. They were just too too too good to have lying around.)

This morning, Steph and Dan picked me up again on their way out of town so that we could go for a quick breakfast. We went to the hot spot of all hot spots in downtown NA: the Town Restaurant. I used to go there for breakfast with my dad when I was little for their amaaaaaazing grilled muffins. Today, I went wild and ordered the special omelet — spinach, tomato, and mushroom — with egg whites.

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It came with sweet potato fries and toast, but I skipped the toast and got extra fries instead. (Actually, I asked for fruit instead of toast, but the waitress told me that there was no fruit on the premises.) I don’t like regular potatoes, so the chance for sweet potato fries is rare, and I had to take advantage!

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Steph got the cinnamon bun French Toast. It was literally an iced cinnamon bun sliced into thirds and French Toasted. Yummmmmm:

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While there, the town Memorial Day Parade went by outside. All the brownies and cub scouts and high school bands and policemen with antique rifles went marching by. It was verrrry exciting because some family members of parade participants happened to be in the restaurant at the same time. We felt like we got in on some prime behind-the-scenes action. (Sort of.) Too bad I did not get a picture! We did, however, get free baby American flags that someone from the downtown association came around to hand out. I think I lost mine in the excitement? Hmmmm …

Back to breakfast, Steph tried to save her frosted bites for last, but she got too full. I had to finish them. It’s important to take one for the team.

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I’ve done cinnamon bun oatmeal, but now I think I may need to start including cinnamon bun french toast in the rotation!

Is there a breakfast hot spot in your hometown?

Raw! (sort of)

Before my mom and I headed out for our walk this afternoon, I had the rest of this morning’s fruit salad as an inter-meal snack:

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Along with this carrot “core” dipped in fresh WF almond butter:

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Mom and I set off on a lovely walk for an hour or so, winding our way through the arboretum that leads to a nieghborhood park, chatting with each other, and chatting with neighbors.

Back home, we finally ate “lunch” around 7pm! I’d been working on preparing the various components of Gena’s raw zucchini alfredo over the course of the afternoon, with just a few adjustments.

To make the “noodles,” I used a vegetable peeler on carrots, zucchini, and yellow squash:

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I made a smaller portion of the sauce — 3/4 cup cashews instead of 1.25 cups — than the recipe because this house does not need any more leftovers! We also added some toasted sesame oil (I know that un-raws it, but it tasted good!) and soy sauce:

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My mom was a little bit hesitant about the highly caloric nature of this nut-based sauce, but I reminded her that the nuts were serving as the protein/fat part of the meal. The calories were definitely warranted and necessary!

For the final (and again un-raw) addition, I lightly steamed some broccoli and mixed in a few crushed dried garlic flakes, and that got mixed with the “pasta”:

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Here it is all mixed together with the sauce (and twilight porch-seating — you can see the grass in the background!):

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I honestly wasn’t sure how I would feel about this raw “pasta” — I was thinking it would just be like a refreshing summer salad, but it was delicious! I LOVED the sauce. It tasted like cold sesame noodles. Mom and John cleaned their plates, too. You must try this!

For dessert, I had a couple slices of sweet potato that I found in the fridge (they got treated to some cinnamon post-photo):

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Oh, right, I had more dessert after that, too 😛 My friend Steph (we’ve known each other since we were probably six months old!) and her husband Dan (who also went to high school with us) picked me up, and we headed over to a law school graduation party for Liz, also from high school, at her parents’ house (Congrats, Liz!). I got to chat with a bunch of people I hadn’t seen in years — so fun! I had loads of chips and guac, and then the cake came out:

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I had a small piece of each and then stopped there. I was too busy socializing 🙂

And now it’s time for bed! I’m getting myself psyched for the bird chorus to wake me up at 4:45 am again. I know I complain about morning birds all the time in Brooklyn, but I’ve gotten spoiled. It’s exponentially louder here in MA! I think I will go home next week with a greater appreciation for Brooklyn’s more moderate tweeting. Does leaving town make you appreciate things more at home?

Dirrrty

Well. I just ran my first and last trail race.

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(Those were my brand-new shoes. They’re broken in now.)

Erin Gunn, Sarah Whiting, and I spent the morning up at Bear Mountain for The North Face Endurance Challenge. Erin and I ran the 10k; Ting (short for Sarah Whiting) ran the half. To be more specific, while Ting was enjoying a little 13+ mile jog (just kidding — Ting, you’re amaaaaaaazing and I think maybe superhuman!!), Erin and I painstakingly tried to run 6.3 miles of hiking trail through muddy rivers, slimy rocks, and steep inclines.

I’m actually pretty pleased with how I did. I was expecting to end up walking the whole thing because I haven’t really been able to run since pulling all my leg muscles at the end of March. For this race, I focused on keeping my pace verrrrrrry slow, and the treacherous nature of the course forced me to walk for quite a bit of the race to pick my way “over the river and through the woods” while remaining upright!

** Edited 5/12 to add these pictures from the race website.

Feeling energetic early in the race:

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Finish line in sight, yet still so far away (all of 50 feet I think):

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Happy (?) finish line dance:

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I finished the race in something like an hour and 35 minutes (I was second to last!!! I was kind of disappointed when I heard someone else finished after me. If I was going to be last, I wanted to be last), but I finished running! Surviving this race actually gave me a lot of hope for the Brooklyn half at the end of May. Ting finished about 10 minutes after I did (but to be fair, the half did begin an hour before the 10k). Here we are at the end:

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There was a tent with cut fruit and peanut butter. I had many pieces:

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Erin and I were cold and tired and sore and wondering how the heck Ting had roped us into over 90 minutes of voluntary torture. We agreed we don’t have to do this again next year. Ting stuck around with some of her other friends to watch the 50k runners start to come in; Erin and I busted out of there to head to her apartment for showers and lunch. Which leads us to the food …

Featured Contributions: Thursday through Saturday

Thursday’s linner: homemade tortillas with homemade chicken mole and beans left from the Parent & Me cinco de mayo event at work on Wednesday:

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Ginger chew from Beryl on Friday:

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A chopped apple, an orange, cool whip, and peanut butter left from Myrna and Mildred’s afternoon group:

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(I had another orange and seconds of cool whip and pb later, too!)

I headed straight up to Yonkers after work, and Erin Gunn picked me up for some bridesmaid dress reconn at David’s Bridal, followed by Indian food, her treat 🙂

Papadum and chutneys:

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Baingan Bhartha (eggplant):

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Channa Saagwala (chickpeas and spinach):

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We ordered spicy. We needn’t have. The spiciness necessitated lots of tissues and lots of rice:

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Anise crunchies on the way out:

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This morning, I made us pre-race breakfast cookies with the contents of Erin’s cupboards.

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Each cookie included 1/2 cup oats, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1/2 mashed banana, 1 tbsp chocolate chips, 1 tbsp sweetened coconut, 1 tbsp mixed chopped nuts, and cinnamon.

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The frosting involved plain yogurt and half of this baby jar of heaven:IMG_9396

Our post-run lunch was Indian leftovers with tons and tons of yogurt to cut the heat:

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And a very very exciting treat from work yesterday:

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Rosey’s mom (who I think is Puerto Rican) made pasteles — kind of like tamales but with plantain on the outside and meat on the inside — this past week, and Rosey brought them in to share on Thursday. I missed this first delivery because I don’t work on Thursdays, but Nydia gave me a couple of hers yesterday since it was my last day until June, and they all wanted me to be able to try them! I brought my tied-up package to Erin’s with me, boiled it for an hour in salted water per Rosey’s instructions, and set to unwrapping it.

In paper:

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In banana leaf:

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Finally ready:

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Mmmm, it was yummy. I loved the texture of the plantain on the outside. Here’s the filling:

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I dozed off a bit after lunch, and then Erin deposited me at the subway. Two hours later (grrr, construction), I was finally home.

Now, “vacation” is over, and it’s time to rededicate myself to the finals: one paper due Monday and one due Thursday. Then, I will be free!! (Errr, for two weeks until it all starts again …)

To conclude, here are Ting’s battle-scarred legs:

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Would you ever in a million years choose to spend your day off participating in a trail race?

Put the crumbs to use

When I got home from class yesterday afternoon, I had a few kitchen projects that img_8592needed addressing.

My sunflower seed butter having ridden into the sunrise with breakfast yesterday morning, I determined that it was time to inaugurate my Everybody’s Nuts “south of the border” pistachios. I sampled a few to make sure they passed the test:

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Oh my goodness. These are delicious. Mildly hot, mildly sweet, and super-spiced with chilli powder and cumin. YUM. I shelled a pile for the coffee bean grinder:

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And then ground away:

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Beautiful, right? I can’t wait until I have a real-live, sturdy, food processor someday. The thought of making more than 3 tbsp of nut butter at a time is mind-blowing.

My coworker Mildred’s birthday was yesterday, and since I wasn’t there due to my Thursday class, I wanted to bake her a cake to bring in today. Mildred doesn’t like chocolate (crazy), so I thought some Passover sponge cake would be just the ticket, especially since the recipe called for seven eggs and I had all that potato starch left from Passover. I obviously enjoyed the cake batter immensely. While baking, some “unfortunate” leakage occurred:

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The leaks conveniently doubled as taste-tests to make sure the cake was not poisonous:

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All clear. Phew.

Finished with a drizzle of the homemade black raspberry jam Wife gave me in Charlotte last weekend:

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I had both broccoli and smoked salmon (still from Tuesday’s egg event) on hand, so I set out to recreate one of the appetizers from Saturday’s wedding buffet for dinner.

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I’m so gourmet, right?

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For dessert, I knew I needed to incorporate all of these cake crumbs from the sponge cake I had just baked:

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I made chocolate peanut butter froyo with plain yogurt, part skim ricotta, unsweetened cocoa powder, PB2, ground flax, and chopped dates. Immersion blend, freeze for 20, stir, freeze for 20, stir, and then it’s done! Here’s my cake and ice cream bowl topped with coconut and pieces of chocolate-caramel-nut easter candy:

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Ahhhhhh, so so so so good! Even better than the Tasti-D I had earlier in the day, if you can believe that. (I also may have gone back and had several more bites of that Easter candy).

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When do you prefer homemade over store-bought?