Monday, December 29, 2008

Chickpea Soup and Procrastinating

I was feeling a little blah today and it's Dec. 29 (therefore cold and rainy here in Western WA) so I decided to try a new recipe - Chickpea Soup from Veganomicon. I made a few tweaks to it, based on what I had on hand and personal taste. This yields a highly noodle-y product, which I prefer over too broth-y.

Chickpea Soup
-2 T. olive oil
-1 c. diced carrot
-1 med. diced onion
-2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1.5 t. thyme
-1 t. celery seed
-0.5 t. black pepper
-1 c. cremini mushrooms, sliced
-1 can chickpeas, drained
-3 c. vegetable broth
-5 c. water + 5 T. vegetarian chicken broth powder
- 8 oz. (1 package) fine udon noodles (broken into thirds)
-0.25 c. white miso

1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large pot and add the onion and carrot.
2. After five minutes, add the celery.
3. After five more minutes, add the garlic, mushrooms, and spices. Sautee for about two to three minutes.
4. Add the chickpeas and broth, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower heat down to medium to maintain a low boil, and add udon noodles. Simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Stir in miso, adjust as necessary to taste. Then enjoy!

I ate some with apple slices + pb for an absolutely fabulous lunch.

On a different note, today I figured out the key to being productive. I'm not working this week, so theoretically I want to get lots of things done to start the year off right. The BF was at work today, so I got to be all housewifey. Well, that is, after I rolled out of bed at 10... Anyway, I had a pretty significant list of things I wanted to accomplish but was feeling highly lazy. In addition to my list, it occurred to me that I also had a run scheduled today. Suddenly, that to-do list became alot more appealing, relative to hitting the treadmill. So I disinfected the trash can, did dishes, and prepped for dinner before finally mustering the motivation to head downstairs and go running.

You see, even though I can now comfortably run three miles, that doesn't mean I magically love it and spring downstairs to the treadmill each day in anticipation of getting my fat ass in gear. I guess it's a good lesson for me - it will never get easier, and I will never have to push myself any less than I did in the beginning. Could be a good thing, assuming I stick with it. Goal for Wednesday: four miles! That will help offset my New Year's Eve drinking.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cooking frenzy

I am extremely fortunate to be on holiday (paid!) vacation until Jan. 5, so I am putting my idle time to use by cooking looks of delicious home-cooked food!

Yesterday morning I got to sleep in, then enjoyed one of my favorite breakfasts: coffee with unsweetened chocolate Almond Breeze and some sugar-free hazelnut syrup; a smoothie with mango, pineapple, raspberries, blackberries (all frozen), vanilla rice protein powder, a bit of oj, and some water; tofu scramble!; and a piece of Ezekiel whole wheat toast. This morning is the same thing, and I am psyched about that.

Almond Breeze is pretty much the best thing ever. I really don't like the taste of soymilk, plus I think I'm allergic to it, so I had to find an alternative. Enter almond milk. I also tried hazelnut, which is amazing, but it's just too expensive for every day use. Almond milk tastes great and is alot cheaper. In fact, Almond Breeze is only $1.99 I believe at Trader Joe's. What I really like about it is that you can get the unsweetened variety in original, vanilla, and chocolate. Since it's made from almonds, it's already kind of naturally sweet, and when you avoid added sugar it's only 45 calories for a cup! Yummmmm.... I love it over cereal or with coffee. They need to pay me to advertise.

Sorry, I digress. For lunch I cooked up a big ol' pot of split pea soup, which is crazy easy to make. It wasn't totally perfect, so I don't want to post the recipe quite yet.

We were starving by the time we got home from running errands, so I whipped up some sloppy joes with a side of corn and black beans.

Extremely Easy Sloppy Joes
-1 can tomato paste
-Approx. 1.5 c. water
-2 t. oregano
-1-2 T. chili powder
-1 t. garlic powder
-0.25 c. ketchup
-2-3 T. maple syrup or brown sugar, whatever you've got
-1 T. yellow mustard
-2 bags Boca crumbles (4 servings)

Combine everything but the Boca crumbles in a saucepan over medium heat, and bring to bubbling. Lower heat, and simmer 5-10 minutes to let everything mingle. Taste it and adjust ingredients as necessary. Meanwhile, microwave the frozen crumbles, and once hot dump them in. Add some more water if needed. Let everything heat together for about five minutes, then serve.

If you want to make these but don't have any faux-beef crumbles on hand, I would suggest either cooked lentils or rehydrated TVP.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas yummies

My bro-in-law got my dad a pretty sweet gift this year - a fifth of Johnnie Walker Blue. If you're not familiar with it, you obviously don't like whiskey/scotch, because it's really fucking good. Let's just say it comes in a leather carrying trunk. I got to try some and it was definitely tasty. However, I still think I prefer bourbon to Scotch - I like the sweeter taste of the bourbon, and don't really like the peaty taste that comes along with Scotch. Overall, though, it was excellent, if you have two hundred bucks to drop on a bottle of whiskey.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christmas Rush 5K and He'Brew Reviewed

You know how you occasionally have one of those days where you just want to DRINK? Not have a few glasses of wine, I mean start at noon and drink the day away. Saturday was one of those days.

First, I ran the Kent Christmas Rush 5K in the morning and shaved over 1:30 off my time. Yay! Here is a super hot action shot. I think I was concentrating on how much I hated all the little kids that were bugging the shit out of me throughout the race. I'm actually really happy with my time, because it indicates my training has been paying off - I ran the race at almost exactly the same time I do my long runs on the treadmill (5.25mph race, 5.2mph training on treadmill).

The shirts we got for participating were superhot, featuring a COW in Christmas garb. Maybe the svelte, gazelle-like women that can run a 5K in 22 minutes find them cute, but personally I really don't want to run around in public with a bovine motif on my chest. Oh well, it's a nice technical shirt, so it'll be good for layering.

Ok, back to what you probably care about: post-race I really wanted some libations. The BF and I swung by our neighborhood Top to pick up a few groceries and some beer for the day. I settled on a six-pack of He'Brew Genesis.

To be honest, 75% of my decision was based purely on the name - I am a sucker for a good pun. Additionally, the brand has been given positive reviews and I thought a golden brown ale sounded pretty damn tasty.

I was pleasantly surprised with the taste - it's really good! It tastes almost exactly like Spaten Oktoberfest, which is one of my favorite bottled beers (some beers are better on tap, some in bottles, is what I'm getting at). Overall, it's a little on the sweet side, with what I guess you would call a carmel malt (I'm not a beer critic). It's mildly hopped, with the hops really hitting you at the end with a nice, clean finish. I'm not into really hoppy beers, so this is pretty much at the high end of the hops spectrum for what I enjoy. This is definitely a beer to relax with and enjoy, not pound down to get drunk with. Plus, it's Kosher! Also, supporting smaller microbreweries is always a good idea, so AB and Miller-Coors don't take over the world.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Soup Weather

It's rainy and cold here in the PacNW (though positively tropical compared to the Midwest), which makes me really hanker for some tasty soup. As a vegetarian, I have alot of pet peeves regarding soup (well, I have alot of pet peeves in general but whatever), and thus it makes finding good soup much more difficult. Here are the highlights:

1. First, the vast majority of mainstream restaurant/deli soups aren't even vegetarian! Even the seemingly vegetarian ones are made with chicken or beef broth, which seems completely stupid for two reasons: chicken and beef broth are the same price as veggie broth, and by needlessly meatifying an otherwise vegetarian soup you are excluding a pretty sizable customer base! And even if it absolutely has to be chicken flavored, they sell that chicken broth powder in every bulk section thats vegetarian.
2. When soups are vegetarian, they frequently are pretty boring. I mean, sometimes I really crave a big hot bowl of tomato basil, but generally it's just the few usual suspects (tomato, minestrone, vegetarian vegetable if you're lucky), so they get old fast. For instance, I am so completely over Olive Garden minestrone. I don't even go there that often, but that is the only vegetarian soup they have so I end up getting it basically every time. Same goes for canned soups - there aren't alot of options, unless you want to spring for the really pricey stuff, which is dumb because at that point you should just make your own.

Anyway, I concluded today that I need to make a big pot of something delicious and comforting for a quiet Friday night in with the BF. I settled on the tomato rice soup found in Veganomicon, which features navy beans and roasted garlic. Well, mine features white beans and sauteed garlic, actually. Since we're moving in about a month, I'm currently trying to work my way through our pantry, so I made a few changes to the recipe.

What I ended up with is a pretty bastardized version of the original, but is just as delicious, I think.

Original recipe = 56 oz. crushed tomatoes, roasted garlic, navy beans
My version = 14 oz. crushed tomatoes, 4 fresh food-processed Roma tomatoes, 1 can Campbell's tomato soup, 1 can Progresso tomato basil soup, sauteed garlic, canned white beans

Yum yum! It turned out great! And it made a ton so I can eat it all weekend with the rosemary olive oil bread I purchased to accompany it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Transforming into a runner

I am a fat kid. I'm not saying that to put myself down, it's just a fact - I really like to eat, particularly things that are horrible, like a chocolate-covered Oreo served with ice cream or half a pound of Hot Tamales. Additionally, it's hard for me to find the motivation to exercise since I've never been exceptionally good at it.

With that said, I decided a little while ago to become a runner. It's basically the hardest possible thing I could do, because it definitely ranks up there as one of the things I am worst at. If I can become a decent runner, I can do anything, right?

I ran my first 5K the whole way through on Nov. 29 (Seattle Marathon 5K), with a time of about 37 minutes (the clock read somewhere mid-37 when I crossed the finish line, but I was in the back when the race started and my chip never worked). Yeah, I know that works out to 12 minute miles, which is definitely not fast, but I never walked at any point during those 3.1 miles and I am totally proud of that. The picture here is a little blurry, but yes, I wore a Maker's Mark shirt, since half of my casual wear is alochol-themed.

This Saturday (Dec. 13) I'll be running the Christmas Rush 5K in Kent, and my goal is just to beat my time.

I've been following this training schedule:

Monday: Speed work - I usually run a mile as fast as I can, then do a few 1/2 mile or so sprints at a pace that are about 2 min. faster than my normal mile time. Obviously I'll add more sprints in as I get better

Tuesday: Strength training with personal trainer - Yeah, it's expensive, but I've learned there is no way I'll ever push myself or get so much accomplished on my own, so I've made it part of my routine. I figure it's better than frittering that money away on shit I don't need, anyway.

Wednesday/Thursday: Reasonably easy run one of these days, running at about my race pace (right now it's 2.5 miles - increasing by .1 miles/week)

Friday: Strength training with personal trainer

Saturday/Sunday: Long run one of these days, running at about my race pace or a little slower (currently at 3.4 miles - increasing by ideally .25-.5 miles/week)

This gives me 2 days per week off and increases my mileage pretty slowly so I don't burn myself out. For all of my workouts I aim for at least 40 min of activity. As I get better I may throw in a fourth day of running and increase my mileage rate a bit more, but right now I'm just thrilled I can run more than 3 miles!

I think my goal has become completing a half marathon. It seems possible if I really keep up with training, and as an added bonus I'm pretty sure I'd lose some weight without really trying. I think my tentative committment is going to be the Seattle Rock 'N Roll half marathon at the end of June, because that gives me plenty of time and I'll have some friends in town to do it with. I would much rather work out alot than restrict my eating too much, so full steam ahead with the running!

First post, getting it over with

I started a mini cookbook/zine type-thing for a few of my friends as a creative and inexpensive Christmas present, and it kind of inspired me to create a blog that's actually useful. I really don't need a Livejournal/MySpace-type play-by-play account of my life out there, but stuff that may actually help add some zest, if you will, to the lives of others. I've been meaning to do this for awhile, since sometimes you just really want to release that great recipe/political statement/organizing tip/whatever into the world.

Plus, my job is kind of boring and this will hopefully help spur me to do interesting things that will keep my life exciting.

Explanation about the blog address: my dream is to one day become Supreme Dictator of the World and fix all the crappy stuff/people that are dragging the rest of us down. More on that later, I'm sure. My name is Lindsay, thus I shall establish a new form of government known as a Lindsocracy.

Ok, done w/ the first post explanation.