Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Quiche of the Week Club

Well I survived the ride!  Just goes to show things are never live up to the hype you create in your head.  There was a lot of climbing (3,000 ft overall) and some really great parts where I really got in my groove and then some parts where I barely had the strength to keep the pedals turning.  This is why I love cycling - it's not nearly as miserable as running.  If I have nothing in me, unless I'm no a big hill..I can coast...magical coasting..
This is the terrain I conquered:
The first half was challenging but went by pretty quickly in my head - really glad some of those biggest climbs were in the beginning while I was fresh.  There were some hills towards the end (mile 45) that were pretty brutal.  Not to mention that the finish was up a short STEEP hill..I did not like that very much..
I attribute my success immensely to the home made fuel (eaten at regular intervals before I was hungry) + Honey Stinger energy gels.  They also had oranges and bananas at the rest stops which were excellent fuel sources as well.  Also, my night before routine I did a lot of stretching, took and epsom salt bath and coated my neck and back with Tiger Balm (yum).

So lately, I've been a little into crust-less quiches.  My friend, Cassy, knows (and is the one who taught me the skills).  Ever since I joined a local CSA(Community Supported Agriculture) I get a lot of veggies and eggs.  The most efficient way to use a lot of these ingredients so that they don't go to waste (besides making salads and hard boiled eggs) is quiches.  You can put anything in a quiche and it will taste great (well okay maybe not anything).  And they are great to eat throughout the week for breakfast and/or lunches.
I call this week's creation "Too many Veggies, not enough Egg".  I was on the last 4 of my eggs..but it still worked!  This time I also decided to put the veggies in uncooked instead of sauteeing them first and I really like it because they are still crunchy.  (asparagus, tomatoes and spring mix lettuce).  I think if I'm making a Kale/Chard quiche I will continue to cook those down a bit so I can fit more in the quiche.
Bon Ape tit!
If it would stop raining in CT, that would be great Mother Nature, thank you..

Saturday, June 9, 2012

How do we start this thing up again?

Some habits die hard....some habits die for sure.  Someone told me I should keep writing in this..  So I'll give it another whirl.  Truth is I get easily distracted when I sit at the computer.  Someday someone will invent some form of scripting through osmosis..that way whatever I think of in my head magically gets transferred to my computer.  Human Bluetooth.  Totally.

Lot has been happening up here over the past few months!  It's only the beginning...  I am moving! At the end of this month I'm heading a few towns over to Stamford - the "big city"..yah.  Their town motto.. "The City that Works".   GREAT transition from "The Natural State" with a city that likes to say "Keep Fayetteville Funky".   Well I'll be living with someone who comes up from Fayetteville so hopefully we'll be keeping it funky in Stamford in our penthouse townhouse apartment.  Yeehaw! Yeah, pictures to come.  Who wants to help me pack? ha..

I'm getting teased by Summer - Spring and Fall keep trying to make a come back.  And this Summer has been off to a rocky start.  Some health issues have forced me to make some changes to my habits and diet.  For a period of 60-90 days I can't eat any grains, flour, dairy or beer essentially.  I'm essentially on the Paleo diet because that's all the food left to eat!  But, it has actually been a blessing in disguise (minus a Summer without Beer..)  I've been forced to come up with more creative meals which are actually a lot healthier.  Not that I don't still dabble in some fried food, wine and way too many nuts..
My nut obsession has gone so far that I ordered this on Amazon
...seriously the greatest invention ever.  How can I eat more nuts?  Nut Powder!! Amazing... I recommend regular over Chocolate personally, but they came in a two pack so I went for it.

I've really been digging on some Raw food recipes lately - and trying to mimic some of the things I love with the limited ingredients I can eat.   So tomorrow I have a HUGE 53 mile bike ride up in Bethel.  I say HUGE because it is really hilly and I haven't been riding near enough and I've got a massive pain in my back.  So it should be fun right!? ha..  I'll feel better afterwards?  I'll let you know..

So I made my own fuel for tomorrow - lots of combinations of nuts and fruits and honey basically.
I made these muffins for breakfast tomorrow! They are chock full of nutty pumpkin goodness! (At least they made my house smell good. They use almond flour instead of regular - so they aren't exactly low fat but it will give my body something to work off of!
Pumpkin Honey Almond Walnut Muffins
Dates, dried cherries, nuts, nut butter and honey
And I made my own energy bites to eat along the way.  They
took a little molding, hopefully they stay in their ball shapes in my back pocket.  I kinda used a modified version of this recipe.   I added cocoa powder to half of them..

Okay now I realize why I never write blogs.  It takes forever!
Finally this evening I experimented with making cauliflower "mashed potatoes".  Cauliflower is pretty amazing.  I steamed half a head of it with tumeric and rosemary and it came out really good!
Processor Power!
Well time to go get some shut eye so I can wake up at 5:30am to go torture myself.
Night all!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

I'm still a tourist up here - exploring Putnam & the edge of Dutchess County

I haven't done this in a while but this morning I woke up and decided I needed to get the heck out of town.
I wanted to find a good hike to help get my climbing legs back as bike season begins.  Saturday morning I went with the Women's group I had gone with a could times before in Greenwich.  It was just a short 17.7 miles and I felt good the whole way but I could tell with the few short climbs that I was going to have to get some more leg work in.  I don't know if I just have some sort of mild version of SAD, but over the last few months I have found many excuses to hold myself back in terms of being active.  The more I start to collect and read all of these running and healthy eating blogs and hear about my own friends who conquer such awesome, inspirational athletic feats every day the more I am starting to push myself more. I've started to really understand that your body is usually always more capable than you THINK it is.  And while that isn't to say you shouldn't listen to and take care of your body, you have more ability and strength than you think you have and it's okay to push yourself because more often than not you'll come out feeling on top of the world.  (or on top of Breakneck Ridge :) ).

So on with that story..I didn't leave town until noon and a I took my time on the hour and a half drive.  I stopped at this country store in the rolling "countryside" of NY drawn to the sign for fresh bread but ended up with a fresh new bar of soap instead!

The season was still early so they didn't have much in stock, I'll have to come back and pay the lady a visit during the summer
Can't wait to try it tonight!
This actually wasn't a very long hike.   My Garmin didn't pick up the satellites right away but I estimate it was just over 3 miles.  The climb was killer though.  I wanted to do the Breakneck Ridge trail which is 5.5 miles and climbs 1250 feet in 3/4 mile but the description said that the terrain gets slick and dangerous when wet and there was a chance of rain and I didn't have much time starting in the afternoon so I chose two alternative routes that made for a shorter hike that still went up the 1250 feet but over a slightly longer distance (a little over a mile).  I started with the Wilkenson Memorial Trail and took the Breakneck Bypass that cut out a lot of the steepest climbing on the Breakneck Ridge Trail.  Now I finally get the name ha!  It was slow going, it was like climbing a staircase and within about 1/4 of a mile I had already lost 3 of my layers (way overdressed).  I am still constantly amazed by some of the breathtaking views in NY and this one definitely didn't disappoint.
Not quite to the top yet, a view of the Hudson River - My car is somewhere at the bottom of that hill that I am now above

The surprise ending - a breathtaking view on the other side of the ridge
When I finally go to the top I was well rewarded with a spectacular view of believe it or not I think it's actually called Lake Surprise haha.
I enjoyed a nice little snack at the top - half a banana and a couple sardines - before you judge they are actually really good!  I found it very strange after a while sitting there on the quiet expansive ridge.  As my breath had calmed and I was no longer gasping for breath it was almost an eerie quiet.

I think hiking alone as its upsides - you can take everything in at your own pace and enjoy your own thoughts.  When I go though I try to stick to shorter hikes because it can get a little boring by yourself as you don't have conversation to pass the time on the trail.  Plus, I don't like to get too far in away from my car in case something happens.  I usually always go to a state park where I know there will be plenty of other tourists like me. :)  Here is a map of the park and you can see which trail I did - obviously there is a lot of ground I didn't cover. Trail Map
After my hike I went down to the historic downtown area near the train (every city on CT and NY seem to have a typical "Main Street".  Every little cafe I went into had something I wanted to buy and it's always awkward going into small cafes without buying anything (which is why I ended up with an oatmeal cookie and a coffee at the first one I stopped at).  So much for avoiding sugar ha!  I'm goign to bank on since it was a Natural Health food cafe that it wasn't too unhealthy because it was one of the best cookies I've ever had!  I sat on a bench on the street watching people and dipping it in my hot coffee.
Now it's back home and back to reality!  And time to shower..I feel all icky and crawly..

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bose Headphones Just Aren't Enough

The flight attendant gets on the speaker and announces that the fasten seat belt sign is still lit, so please remain seated with your seat belts securely fastened.  Then she proceeds to run through the drill, when the beverage service will be available and what items are available for purchase.  She then says "sit back and enjoy your flight"  Gllladddly I sigh as I slip into my bose noise canceling headphones.

I am not a very friendly traveler.  If you saw me sitting in my seat I might perhaps appear the scariest person alive.  I seem to make the mistake of sitting in the rear of the plane every time I fly.  Why is the rear bad?  Well that's where all of the people with small children sit in order to not desturb the plan with their young, screaming children.  A nice thought of them, but ill luck for myself.  Especially in that God-awful time between closing the cabin doors and taking off.  Don't you hate it when, for no explainable reason, that whole process takes an hour longer than it normally takes?  The kids really hate that too...they hate it with a passion..loudly.

A few months ago I was gifted a blessed thing.  Bose noise canceling headphones.  Not the ultra noise canceling but still a pretty high quality technological miracle from mankinds noble conquest in invention.  I love crawling into my silent musical bubble.  My productivity increases tri-fold.  I've started using them at work even though they may make me look a little dorky and anti social. One draw back...I like them too much.  It makes that horrendous time in between shutting down electronic devices and blissful freedom to use all approved electronic devices all the more unbearable.  I'm anxiously awaiting that ding so I can rip them out and put them on again.  It has changed what it's like to travel

But, thank fully I am freed from the noise and I'm speaking to you within my bubble.  Currently my radiohead filled soothing bubble of happiness.

I'm flying to Phoenix for work.  If I had thought ahead I would have booked through the weekend..what was I thinking!? I used to be so adventurous!  If I really get ambitious maybe I'll pay the difference and stay...I've always wanted to explore Phoenix.. Oh well..I didn't bring my hiking boots anyway.

Now to try to fill this flight with my bose fueled productivity so that I can try to get in a good workout when I get to Phoenix-horray time change in my favor!

P.S. Longest flight ever.  How did I get sucked into watching HGTV?

Some things I notice about hotels that are funny:
-I wonder how much paper/plastic is wasted individually wrapping everything?
-Why are the soaps in individual packages but the apples just sit out on the counter downstairs after communal breakfast?
-Hotel stairwells are creepy


Sunday, March 18, 2012

March Madness - Dirty Deeds and Unclean Habits

March 18th...national hangover day.  I'm normally not a fan of hangover "days"..hangovers are meant to be conquered and killed at first sight by "awesome days".  Unfortunately I can't quite inspire myself today so instead I'm going to do the boring thing and be productive.  It actually is shaping up to be a gorgeous day which I'm enjoying at the coffee house across the street but sadly I have a lot to get done for work and the next week is going to be a real tester.  I'm traveling to Phoenix to help give a presentation to a very large beer distributor - my first time to ever be in front of a customer.  Soo the less I have to worry about the better.

Yesterday I experienced St. Patrick's Day festivities in NYC for the first time.  And despite it diminishing my faith in today's youth it was a fun experience.  I missed the parade unfortunately - which runs up 5th avenue for most of the day.  I didn't make it to the city as early because I met some folks from work down the street for an early Irish breakfast buffet at the only local Irish themed Bar/Restaurant.  They had a great set up - outdoor tents in their parking lot and a giant stage for bands to play on throughout the day.  It was an amazingly beautiful day and probably would have been a great spot to spend the day.  But I was determined to get a run in and make it to NYC.

The scene in NY is a sloppy site.  People start early - the parade starts at 10 or 11 and you can probably guarantee that most of the people got started at breakfast with celebrations.  Upon exiting Grand Central at 3pm I was a little shocked.  The streets are filled with groups of "kids" dressed in various green costumes, yellling, laughing, fighting, screaming, scarfing down pizza and very narrowly escaping death at every second.  I actually saw a group of them come within seconds of being run over by a cab as they obliviously crossed the street in front of an oncoming NYC taxi cab (very unwise).  Luckily the cab driver slammed on his breaks just in time.  And the group of drunkin kids screamed and then proceeded to laugh hysterically at their narrow escape of death.  It immediately made me wonder what I had gotten myself into.

The good news(kind of) is that most of these groups of sloppy drunks are either too young to come into the bars or tend to stick to the more popular Irish pubs.  So, there is a safe haven from it all if you find the right location.  Crowded though it was, my friends found a post at the bar and we were able to celebrate comfortably.
First stop Gingerman!  The crowd was just beginning to grow.

Some of the people I was with.

We had a very internationally diverse group.  My two friends met a guy from Germany that morning and he spent the day with them(far right).  In close proximity it's hard not to strike up a conversation with those around you and we quickly met a very nice couple who were in town for the festivities as well.  The woman was from Staten Island and her boyfriend was visiting from London.  Both were fully supplied with accents from their respective regions of the world.  The guys brother came to meet up with them after a little while and it was really interesting talking to them about St. Patty's day in London and their experience in America - the different beers, pub traditions and friendliness of the people.

After a couple of rounds they led us to another bar on the west side.  It's amazing how much people get into this holiday up here.  This place was normally a sports bar but today it was filled with bagpipers and people covered in green.  And despite so much crowdedness and so much drinking I have to say that at both places we went to the bartenders were very friendly and jovial.
Filling the bar with loud, musical spirit

Supporting the Brand - not sure where I go the hat
But obviously after a days worth of celebrating things inevitably start to get a little messy...  Parent, earmuffs.. I had my fair share of Guinness and you know it's never a good thing when shots start happening.  Luckily my friend and I called it early and flew back to Grand Central in a cab to catch the 9:07 home.  But that wasn't until just after I had two closely timed unwise shots.  They kicked in on our way out and it's a little fuzzy now but I think I ate a sandwich from hell on the train and fought consciousness for most of the ride home.  I called it a night as soon as we got back and missed out on having more drinks locally with another friend who couldn't make it out to NYC.  I woke up on the couch at 4am to Obama's State of the Union address blaring on my computer on Hulu.

So after kicking myself this morning I have decided that it's time to focus on developing some healthy habits.  I've read and heard many times the importance of forming habits in life.  With moving I have really gotten out of the habit(ha) of being habitual in my life.  I have kind of spent the last year experimenting, being open to many things and changing my habits frequently depending on what I feel like doing.  It's kind of been a quest to nowhere in the sense that I have spiraled around having many great and not so great experiences but never really landing anywhere in particular.  This article breaks it down pretty well based on ways to combat stress in life. Not that I am completely stressed out all the time but I am definitely disorganized and lost and troubled more frequently than I should be.  5-8 are where I need to focus and I am going to start by listing out the habits I want to have. I think once life becomes more habitual it becomes easier to plan and stay organized in all areas of your life rather than spending most of your time trying to figure out your next step every second of the day.  So, while I was going to include these in this post in order to hold myself accountable, I wasted too much time on St. Patrick's day and I'm already off schedule. (oops). not be tempted by the sun and get some real work done...or..maybe I'll just go for a nice walk and then think about real work :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Daylight! & Rebirth!

My favorite time of year has arrived!  The time of year where it stays daylight for long enough for me to see the sun!  AND to do many exciting things like bask in it and frolic and run and bike and lounge among the shiny rays of sunshine.

Yesterday was also probably on the short list of one of the warmest days of the year.  Perfect timing right?  I promised myself on Friday that I would finally dust the cobwebs off of Rosalita and take the inaugural ride of 2012.  So, after a late night Saturday I  wasn't exactly bouncing out of bed.  In fact I was actually quite comfortable on the couch in my blanket cocoon where I had spent my late night and morning.  But the sunshine called me so I drug myself slowly out of my hibernation cave and into the daylight.
Even though I saw my phone change times at 2am when I woke up somehow it had reverted back to the old time and for about 2 hours I thought I had still managed to get an early start to the day.  Then I realized it was almost noon....there went breakfast.
I think this is my new obsession.  And it's also a plan to stop the bagel obsession.  At least these I know are healthy and still can top them with nut butter and chew on them when I read my magazines, drink my coffee or enjoy a morning show.
muh protein pancakes
This time I actually made note of my ingredients instead of pouring a bunch of random shtuff in the food processor.  And I cut the amount of flour in half..which actually means they were half as filling and I ate twice as many..but it's all good :)

Here's the ingredients I used:
1/4 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 cup egg white
1 scoop Teras Whey Dark Chocolate Protein Powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Tahini
Maybe 1/2 tablespoon Nutritional Yeast.

They cooked VERY quickly and came out a lot thinner than the other pancakes.  Made 5 pancakes all together and the entire recipe only came to 264 calories.  I topped one with apple sauce and sandwiched some tahini & honey in between the other two.

nom nom nom
They were even better than my morning bagel and oh so cheap to make!  And now I have multiple plans for toppings. I'm all stocked up on fruit and yogurt!

Then of course I had to finish off the last two with some apple sauce.  I'm definitely going to make these more often and try to have them throughout the week as breakfast or snacks :)

But after as much put-zing around as I could to delay my first cycling conquest I finally had to just suck it up and go.  I am always nervous for my first ride of the year because I don't typically keep a regimented training program in place through the winter to keep all the strength I build climbing all these northeastern hills during summer.   So my plan Sunday was to just take an easy "stroll", really pay attention to my form and any tuning that needed to be done on my bike.  I tried on about 10 different outfits, afraid it might be too cold or afraid I might not be prepared.  My tights still fit (good sign :) ) and I finally had it figured out.  I chose some arm warmers with a red full zip jersey and a thin wind breaker shell.  As I stepped awkwardly through the back door to my apt (picture that music that plays before an epic reveal..bahhhh..bahhhhh...bahhh.....bunnahhhhh!!!!)  I stepped forth, with my bike, hopped aboard and realized that it was just like riding a bike and it felt like I had never had the winter hiatis at all.  HA, just was not an easy ride.  But I followed my plan and focused on form and not trying to flail around putting as much effort as I could into climbing and flying fast - this is what leads to my injuries and I will have NONE of that this year.  I actually want to spend a summer where I can bike AND run at the same time (stupid IT bands).  

Anyway.  It was a lovely ride along the coast 20 miles in favorite quick and easy ride with good sights and places to stop and chill.  People were out EVERYWHERE!  And I love the beaches before beach season because they get so "stuffy" once the parking rules are enforced.  I stopped a couple of times to enjoy the scenery and lay in the sun.  I returned home home with some shaky legs and enough of a "happy" boost to fuel me for an entire week of bliss.  
Long Island Sound on a beautiful breezy day

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Warming Back Up

The next two days call for +50/60s.  I'm SO thrilled!  Tomorrow I traveling to the city for work so it will be nice to at least walk through warm/sunny streets.

So, also happy to report that I got 9 hours of sleep AND a massage today - good as new?! Almost..  The guy massaging me very nearly kneaded me into dough and broke my neck.  I've never had such a rough massage..let's hope it is effective...

This evening, as I sat at home with my gooey muscles I was actually just not too thrilled about the idea of making dinner.  But, some slight encouragement from my mother and I had an epiphany that involved quickly realizing that some of the random ingredients I had at home would be amazing together.  You've got to use your muscles or lose your muscles..same goes for your cooking muscles.

Oh it was grand to flex my muscles in the kitchen.  Oh GARLIC! Oh Onion! So great to hear their sizzle and smell their fragrant toasting once again.  I've been living on such petty meals as of late!

Crimini mushrooms, onions, kale and garlic simmering in vegetable stock and olive oil yum!
I had in my mind to make this mushroom reduction to put on rice but this was much easier and just as tasty.  Easy is good when you live alone..

1 clove Garlic
various spices - whatever I threw on there
Vegetable Stock
Squeeze of lemon at the end

I'm starting to really dig fruit for dessert.  Sprinkled with Cinnimon and Cocoa Powder with a side of hot tea. :)
Just a quick post today..

Monday, March 5, 2012

Whatever is "kale-n" yah, will make you stronger

Okay, so if you understood that nonsense title then you know that I'm going to writing something attempting to tie together ailments and kale. Just trying to keep it goofy for you :)
This is my first attempt to write an entry on my phone, so bare with me I'm not sure how it will turn out. I must write on my phone because I'm desperately in need of sleep and therefore I am in bed at 8:30 waiting to a dose of melatonin to kick in. A little nervous because last few times I took it it really knocked me out! So I'm playing it safe.. I think someone has been secretly slipping me crack because I've had the sleeping habits of a (something that only sleeps 4 hours a night, sometimes at odd times like 10:30-2:30am). Yes today I went bonkers with energy at 5am so I gave up on sleeping and went to the gym. Yes I'm crazy.. My body must be ready for spring.
Saturday I got a little taste of spring. It's still so far off here it seems but Saturday there was a burst of warmth that I'm glad I peeled myself off the couch for. I went for a run and really really wanted to finish at the beach with a 6 mile distance PR. The beach is 2 miles from my house, perfect laps. Unfortunatly IT bands flared up again at mile 3.5. So I decided to end my run at the sea docks instead. Equally as charming! Until some strange man came creeping around my dock. Couldn't he tell I wanted personal space!!
Well I haven't written here in a while..mostly because I A. Haven't had many explorations (although I did have a weekend in NY involving a 93 year old yogi and Russian/Turkish baths-perhaps that story some other time) and B. my cooking has been an embarrassment. (soon to change). I like to keep things positive on here, it's been a long winter and the motivation for more computer time is not there.
But I will leave you with my weekends worth of food ventures. I seem to be on a mission to sample the northeastern bagel scene(hardly a scene in CT).
Also, some tips for your folks who love to "munch" on ways to make a healthy dinner that satisfies the "munches":

Bakes sweet potato fries
Baked Panko zucchini
Carrots and tahini
Kale chips
Mango slices
Roasted chickpeas
Sliced banana with cocoa powder and cinnamon
Lots of bite size wonders! Just make sure your portions are still normal-I have a problem STOPPING the munchies

Last but not least, I spent Sunday enjoying a great new book, some good beer and rediscovering my favorite way to eat kale! More on that later-melatonin says its bed time.
PS not sure my pictures work on this phone..
Finger food lunch!
This stuff REALLY works if you need sleep
Sliced Banana with Wheat Germ, Cinnamon and Cocoa Powder
Best raw salad ever - massage avocado, sea salt and olive oil into Kale and add brussel sprouts, parm cheese and tuna!..Or whatever veggies you have at home
A great Sunday evening activity
Veggie Sandwich for brunch at Upper Crust Bakery
Dinner can come in sticks and still be healthy
I was really hoping this wheat bagel with hummes would rival Astoria..nope
Roasted Chickpeas are gooood finger food
Really looking forward to spring..

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Let's Get Frivolous

So I'm convinced that half the things we consider our hobbies or interests are actually just sources used to partake in procrastination or distraction from the things in life we really have to do but don't really want to do.  My vices are food, exercise and since I have moved here let's add TV and shopping to the list.  Now that might sound kind of pessimistic but really 9/10 times when I'm doing those things I am most likely avoiding something else I really should be, cleaning, making important appointments, calling people, other goals in life that you really want but obviously don't hold your interest well enough to create a reason to focus on them..  And often times when I start on these unfun things I almost always get the urge to stop and go do one of those things.  "Oh I need to look at this excel spreadsheet and determine trends in sales for these brands...oh wow I really could use a cup of tea and a piece of chocolate"...::pitter patter pitter patter:::  mmmm...."okay where was I again??"
This weekend was case and point.  I'm especially "naughty" when some plans I have made fall through and I"m left with nothing to do and no more excuses to avoid getting some real work done.  Sooo this weekend I was supposed to go to New Haven with some friends when one of them canceled.  Instead I spent the afternoon burning some big holes in my credit cards in an outdoor shopping center in Westport.  The shopping IS good here...
I did get some good steals though.  But now I"m cut off :)
I chose to be a little more "frivolous" with my weekend breakfast routine too.  Seeing as I actually slept long enough for my breakfast to be considered "lunch" I thought "why not go down to Chocopologie and see how their breakfast is?"  It really is dangerous to live around so many tasty restaurants.
Oat, grain berry pancakes with a side of fruit
 And you thought I was so healthy :P  Although I will say that I did do yoga before I went to "breakfast" and the main reason for the carbo load (other than my love for bread and sugar) was to prepare myself for a long run this afternoon (made it 5.2 miles woohoo!)...but I only made it through 1.5 of these pancakes.  They were very hefty.  Breakfast tomorrow! Horray!
For my entire breakfast I sat at a seat that looks in on the kitchen.  The restaurant specializes in chocolate truffles.  Had to stare at this poor little forgotten guy the whole time I was there.  Someone pick him up and eat him!!

But I did redeem myself somewhat this evening by doing about 15 minutes of work and spending an hour cooking a wholesome meal that didn't cost me a cent.  It was so easy I practically cooked the entire meal while on the phone with my dad.  But..I caution..never eat this much fiber in one sitting...I'm now handicapped on the couch with a tummy ache.
Sweet Potato, quinoa, black beans, spinach and half a sole filet with spicy salsa
That really is a lot of food...and I had an apple for dessert..bad idea...

I do have to mention one food breakthrough though.  I have been meaning to post about this discovery for a while as when I posted the picture below on Pinterest it practically went viral in 15 minutes.
The obsession continues! Panko Breaded Baked Potato Fries!
1. Chop potato into fry shapes
2. Dip in bowl of egg white
3. Roll in bowl of panko + seasoning of choice
4. Bake to perfection in 20 minutes depending on how you like them.  
The egg really helps the panko and seasoning stick and make for even crispier "fries"!

Happy Sunday Funday and frivolous distractions :)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lunch Time Delights

It's Saturday.  A day to enjoy yourself - treat yourself well as I often say.  Today I have been stuck on how to take advantage of my Saturday.  It's one of those rare but lovely sunny warm winter days in Connecticut.  Everyone is bustling.  I have an energy like no other and no particular outlet to focus it on.  Despite a long early morning workout I'm still unsatisfied.  So I decided to venture out - if I'm not doing something at least I'm out right! I have some online training to do for work - so I went up the road to Fat Cat Pie Co to have some tasty delights.  When I first sat down it was a little strange..a short New Yorker laughing and making comments at the bar and a women sitting by herself munching on a cheese tray.  And now there is me.  Girl sitting at the bar with a computer and Bose Noise Canceling headphones on sipping a beer and nibbling on a sandwich.  (headphones especially useful for the annoying loud talking boisterous New Yorker behind me.)  But since I sat down the crowd has rolled in and there are a few other couples enjoying delicious food and drinks as well.  
I like this place.  They have a kale quinoa salad to die for and thin crust pizzas with an endless list of ingredients to top with.  But since I'm on my own I couldn't indulge in the giant kale salad or thin crust pizza.  I decided to branch out and get a hot pressed sandwich with Emmanthaler cheese, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and pepper.  Pretty tasty :)  Although slightly oily.still good
I had drinks with a friend last night and we were reflecting on new Englanders.  We are both transplants from other areas of the country and it's fun to see what others think about the people here.  There are always the stereotypes that northerners are stuck up.  And after living here a year I don't think it's necessarily that they are stuck up.  But the forms of personal interaction are definitely different.  And folks up here are definitely kind of sheltered from the outside world of rest of America (A New Englanders view of the US:  New England, Black Hole, California) haha.  It WAS hilarious that we both noticed that shopping here is very strange in that a women shopping will literally barrel into you as if you aren't even there.  It's happened to me numerous times!  Even if it's not crowded and there is no crazy sale (there are no sales here) if you are crossing paths or she is going down the aisle of clothing, she WILL NOT go around you.  It's kind of alarming at "Excuse Me" or anything.   But I guess it's just one of those things..a manifestation of the culture. sandwich is getting cold and my beer warm.  Back to my Saturday.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I Heart Bagel Sundays

This has become my Sunday morning ritual.  Whether I'm in the city or at home - bagels.  But when I'm at home it looks a little like this: Wake up, move around a little, drink some wake me up lemon water..and then throw on some form of socially acceptable outfit (but only mildly acceptable) and skitter across the street to my coffee shop for some coffee and tasty goods.  I enjoy them at my sunlit table with some magazines.  I know, a little counter intuitive to be reading stories of adventurers in Outside and Backpackers magazine while I nosh on my bagel and peanut butter.  Let's just say I now have the fuel and the dreams to plan a super awesome trek across the wilderness.  
Ode to Bagels
For those of you who have not had a bagel in New York, I am sorry you will not find much my "Ode to Bagels" very inspiring.  But one day I hope you all can bite into a crispy, toasty, soft on the inside New York Bagel.  My favorite bagel is a whole wheat everything bagel with hummus.  I am a bit strange - normal New Yorkers get their cream cheese "sch-mere".  But I am not the biggest fan of dairy and, trust me, you REALLY have to like dairy when you get a bagel in New York because they don't hold back.  Normally you are left with bagel consumed and about a half a cup of leftover cream cheese.  Two weekends ago I was in the city and ran across a bagel shop that didn't have hummus.  GASP!  So, I adventured to the Tofu Lox - which is actually not as strange as getting hummus on your bagel interestingly..  It was not too bad, a little salty, but I would go back to the tofu spread again, maybe in different flavors.  
Sadly my coffee shop across the street is no bagel shop - they are prepackaged (rather than fresh) bagels and limited in selection (today I had to settle for plain everything bagel because they had no wheat or pumpernickel).  And, the only spread they have other than cream cheese is butter or peanut butter.  
But I still love it :)  

I have thought about moving as of late.  To a more convenient, cheaper and more "happening" place.  Namely Stamford is my first consideration.  But I can tell you that the one thing that is keeping me from doing this is the fact that I have such a lovely coffee shop across the street.  Sunday rituals are the best.  

In other news.  Life has been full of beer - and no I'm not becoming an alcoholic..I'm consuming beer information more than actual beer.  But despite my busy work schedule I am really liking working in the world of beer in my new role.  It's an exciting time in the industry and for our company.  But none of that is interesting..all I really wanted was a reason to post this picture:   
Cheers :)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

It's my Connecticutiversary !

Well technically this was a few days ago but I find it hard to update during the week because the thought of typing something on my computer after work is just tiring (and I would rather continue my addiction to How I Met Your Mother)

So, it's been one year since I moved here.  Although I still find myself saying "I just moved here" I'm also starting to feel less out of place.  I've come to terms with the fact that while the culture is very different and not always something I like - there are places I fit in and I'm optimistic that slowly but surely other things will start to fall in place if I just keep a positive attitude.  A friend back home gave me some good advice that has kind of opened up my eyes a little.  You really have to picture yourself in that positive goal that you want - just by focusing on that, even if you don't get there right away, your chances for negatives are far less.

So, a year later - what has really happened...what have I learned? Well..
-Brunch is the most important meal
-I am an expert at public transportation
-I can survive big city traffic
-Oysters are awesome
-I've only hit the needle in the haystack in terms of natural explorations
-Boots are essential
-New York has the best bagels (Whole Wheat Everything Bagel with Hummus YES)
-You can tell if someone is from here if they don't pronounce the "tt's" in Manhattan
-Learn to cook at home - because you'll go broke if you eat out
-I miss cheap beer and greasy Mexican food (sometimes)
-Whatever you do, don't use the bathrooms on the train
-I still suck at hailing a cab
-There's always room for negotiation
-You're never too far from home - you can always count on finding fellow Arkansans at the Madhatter

I'm prepared for the next year - it's going to be even better.  With some things perfected and lessons learned I've already got plans to expand experiences in the coming year.  I'm looking forward to many things:
-Another 5 Boro Bike Tour
-Putting my new snow boots to use (but not anytime soon hopefully)
-Maine 2 + Vermont
-The Cape
-Harriman-Bear Mountain state park
-Getting some more visitors out my way
-Potentially a new/"cheap"er apartment
-More bike group fun
-Volunteering - either at a natural park or local farm
-Call friends back home more often (I'm just personally bad at phone calls in general)

And much more - stay tuned.  I've got a year under my belt - no telling what this southern girl will be up to next.

On a totally unrelated note I have discovered the best recovery drink ever.  Witness:
Hemp Milk, Ice, Half a Banana (frozen), Handful of Spinach, Scoop of Dark Chocolate Whey and a few drops of Mint Extract
Now if that don't fuel and restore your muscles I would have to give up cooking because it's useless!  I recommend Hemp milk over any other kind because it really lends itself to thickness and has the best creamy flavor and the most calcium I have seen.  Omega fats don't hurt either.  Also - if you say ew to the Spinach - grow up and try it.
The chocolate and the peppermint made it taste like a dessert - but it was pure nutritional goodness!  It was hard to drink it slow enough to make it last.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Recapturing Zen - And Christmas Highlights

I am a messy cook.

Nothing can make you realize this more than spending a day in the kitchen with your mother.  Years of experiences, collecting of gadgets and making a kitchen her own are some of the many reasons I am put to shame in my mother's kitchen.  I spent a day in the kitchen with my mother, my first real jump back into cooking in quite some time, fixing my Christmas Eve Sweet Potato Casserole (Recipe Here) realizing I have a lot to learn.  But while I may still be a slob, the compliments I got on my dish were enough to inspire me back in the kitchen again.
I took a long Christmas break - came to learn the good and bad of indulgence - and returned home Friday actually fond of the quietness that fills my apartment.  While I have yet to leap back into work, I have found I have a new recaptured Zen in the kitchen, inspired by my time in my mother's kitchen and a desire to return back to a wholesome routine.
As a result of Christmas break I am now obsessed with using Panko in almost every dish I make (followed by some form of sugar of course).  My mother made these amazing Panko/Parmesean coated pork steaks and I was sooo in love with the way it tasted like a wholesome "fried" crispy, juicy piece of meat that I am dead set on finding a perfection in my own kitchen.

My mother's amazing panko pork - I have a refueled energy for cooking now

Yesterday I tried it on some thawed frozen shrimp - delicately coating it, sauteing them and sticking them in the oven with my garlic honey coated cauliflower.  It was very tasty - although for those shrimp that did not touch any of the oil in the pan it didn't quite stick and retain that moist crispness.
Tonight I tried it with tofu.  Still not the same - but I'm definitely onto something.

Coated Tofu sauteing over olive oil spray
The flip side - toasty

Finished product - a nice step back into real cooked food in the kitchen again
I topped them on my salad with a side of almond butter parsnip baked fries.  Not too bad for an easy meal in minutes.

I could write several very long entries about Christmas break - indeed it was filled with much to tell.  Overall it was exhausting but fun and I feel a renewed energy from seeing so many close friends and family - finally realizing the personal strength I have but seem to only find when I'm in my element.  I plan on carrying this through to a life back home that is far less stressful and haphazard than it was before I left on vacation.

Christmas 2011 - The Highlights in Pictures
I flew through Cincinnati and couldn't resist starting Christmas off with an old classic from childhood!  You don't see TCBY anymore, so when I do..just gotta have me some white chocolate mousse

First night back with Dad we visited a mexican restaurant we used to go to when we were very little.  I probably won't be returning...but the cheese dip brought back some flashbacks!
My idea of a good hangover cure back home
Fueling up for the nights festivities - chocolate covered espresso beans and coffee

A French Appertif from my sister
Soon to be Sweet Potato Fries

Making Cilantro Quinoa burgers

You will become Kale Chips
I dare you to find an absent nutrient!
The mess from the beginning came together in the end