Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Already

I've been gone a long time, but I've been inspired to return. The past two months have been really busy, so having a couple of weeks off for the holidays has been fabulous.

Two major events are about to occur in my life: buying our first home and getting married. Stupidly, we are taking on both of these little projects at about the same time: we hope to close on a house by the end of June, and then are planning a 2011 wedding (thank you, stimulus money!). We are embarking on both adventures more abnormally than our peers, I believe, which has made things interesting.

First, the house. Since we live in the Seattle area, the cost of living is high. Any house in our budget will inevitably need quite a bit of updating, but we're excited about that. We're both totally nerdy in that we fantasize about all of the awesome home projects we get to embark on once we are home owners. Hello, sweat equity!

Secondly, the wedding. I'm not a typical bride at all. Just the idea of wedding planning kind of makes me want to barf a little. And I want to keep our budget to $15K while having an open bar. Luckily, we have found a few promising venues that may allow us to achieve that.

So, I'll be deviating from running and cooking for awhile most likely. Just a heads up.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Half marathon 2.0 training

I haven't posted about running in forever, but I've totally kept up with it (at least over the past two months), amazingly.

After the Seattle Rock N' Roll half marathon at the end of June, I pretty much stopped running for two months. It was a nice break, but not recommended. It's not like I was planning to stop, it's just that my rest week turned into a rest month, and whenever you stop running for more than two weeks, you are pretty much screwing yourself. Valuable lesson: don't totally stop running if you ever plan to do it again! Just run a few miles two times a week, that's all it takes! The idea is just to keep yourself reasonably fit and maintain your running endurance.

So, after a painful few weeks of getting the ol' gears turning again, the long runs commenced with five miles on Oct. 3rd. We just did seven this past weekend, and freakishly all three long runs so far have gone pretty well! I remember in the spring every long run felt never-ending and occasionally tortuous. Maybe I retained some of my endurance? One can only hope.

During the week I'm doing 2-3 short runs, at a minimum of three miles in length, at my goal race pace. I'm working my way up to four mile short runs, and right now I'm around 3.4. Ultimately, I'd like every short run for the three final weeks to be four miles in length.
For this upcoming race, I'm using this training time to tweak some things I missed last time. The biggest is my water consumption: I just don't really like drinking it when I'm running, and that's why I got dehydrated at the end of the race in June. Now, I'm trying to make my long runs simulate the race better, and forcing myself to drink more. That means I need a bigger water belt, because currently I can only carry 8oz. Oh, damn, have to go shopping.

I'm also going to experiment replace Clif Shot Blocks with Nerds, because it seems like those will pretty much achieve the same thing and I'll be much more enthusiastic about consuming them. I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vegan Table: reviewed

My latest cookbook acquisition is The Vegan Table, procured during our weekend jaunt to Portland. I've already cooked two recipes from it (the tofu-spinach lasagna pictured and butternut squash risotto with toasted sage), and am pumped to try out some more!

I've been a fan of Colleen's podcasts for about two years now; she's got a ton of great cooking and general lifestyle tips. This book is pretty unique in that the recipes are organized based on gathering type, and then further subdivided into seasonal menus. It's really nice to have pairing suggestions for recipes, just in case I don't feel like thinking about it, and I'm told what works well for big groups.

The butternut squash risotto was my first foray into risotto cookery, and I was fairly successful. Risotto is very time-consuming, so I don't think I'll be making it that often. After all, 25 minutes of constant stirring isn't really my idea of fun. However, I was very pleased with the final result (though I couldn't resist tweaking it a bit by adding caramelized onion). The lasagna turned out great and was super simple - it is now my go-to lasagna recipe, since it's really easy to modify. I LOVE that to make her tofu ricotta you just throw everything in a blender! And it's mixed with enough spinach that it's not really tofu-y.

Overall: great buy, and I'm excited to see what other treasures this book contains!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Queso-less Quesadillas

So I made these as a quick weeknight dinner and they turned out brilliantly! Mashed sweet potato (bake first for an hour in a 350F oven, wrapped in foil) provided a creamy binder and replaced the customary cheese. I sauteed some pepper and onions for few minutes, then added some pinto beans and cumin to round out the filling.

Now, the pièce de résistance was the fresh pineapple salsa to accompany the quesadillas. It was just diced pineapple, diced fresh tomato, a little bit of onion, and cilantro (I used the Dorat frozen cubes, from Trader Joe's, this time). Allow to mellow in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and you're good to go.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Breakfasting in autumn

I adore owning a waffle maker! Here is a pretty picture of the Vegan Brunch corn waffles I made a few weeks ago. Good, but not great. I think I need to play around with the temperature settings on our new waffle maker, and maybe slightly increase the flour/corn meal ratio. However, I really liked the addition of corn meal into the waffle batter, especially with the organic blueberry compote I made! Basically I just dumped a pint of blueberries in a saucepan with some sugar and cornstarch and stirred continuously, for about five minutes after it started getting hot and bubbly. Mmmmmm....... I wish tomorrow was the weekend.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wayward Cafe - Seattle

Since I found myself in the U-District on Friday, I decided to try the Wayward Cafe, a reputable Seattle vegan restaurant. I'm so glad I did, because it was magical.
They automatically get props, just for the selection alone. Even in Seattle it's often difficult to be a vegetarian at alot of restaurants, so having an entire menu that is not only vegan, but also sounds GOOD is impressive. I got a half order of the biscuits and gravy (one biscuit) with sausage, plus a side of homefries, because I completed a six-mile long run an hour before and was famished. Well, I'm really glad I got a half order because it was HUGE! Basically a CD-sized herb biscuit split in half, with a sausage patty on either side smothered in mushroom gravy. Everything was fresh and delicious, exactly how you would want it to taste.It's a really laid-back vibe, which I like alot - not too much hipster presence. There of course were a bunch of UW students in their perfectly thick trendy glasses, skinny jeans, and plaid shirts, but they weren't too annoying and I'm willing to deal with them if it means I get to eat Wayward's awesome food.
AND it's not over-priced! My food was less than $8 before I left them $2 for tip. If you find yourself in that part of Seattle, hit up Wayward!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Word of the Day: Bake!

As in, "bake sale" and "bake-un."

Currently my oven is preheating to a cozy 350F (oh it just beeped!) so I can throw in some chocolate chip cookies. Tomorrow I'll be zipping up to the U-District to drop off my little creations at Sidecar for Pigs Peace for a bake sale they will be throwing Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 pm. All proceeds from the sale will benefit Pigs Peace Sanctuary, which as you may guess, owns the store and everything you buy there helps the sanctuary as well! So, if you live in the Seattle area, stop by this weekend to get a cookie and do a little grocery shopping for vegetarian essentials - it's for a good cause so you practically HAVE to!

Secondly, awhile back my mom gave me a shaker of Bacon Bacon, from Tastefully Simple. Basically it's a food company that does parties in people's houses to sell stuff, in the manner of Tupperware, Party Lite, and Pure Romance. My mom bought this because she felt like she HAD to buy something, and it turned out these are the best bac'un bits EVER! They're $8.99/bottle, so they'd better be. Seriously, if you have the opportunity get your paws on these! You won't believe it's vegetarian, and I guarantee you could fool meat-eaters!