Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Winter comfort dinner and Portland exploration

This meal was consumed two months ago, but it was so awesome I saved it so I could share it with the world. It's actually all from Veganomicon (basically), except the "cooking greens," which were just braised in some tomato sauce, water, and a bit of olive oil. Made some corn bread, chickpea cutlets (dipped in breadcrumbs and baked), bastardized fast red wine sauce, and FUCKING AMAZING baked beans. Seriously, I'd never made homemade baked beans before, and now I understand. I have converted. They're ridiculously easy to make, too. Overall, this was definitely a four star dinner. Would have been five if I had not been lazy and made a better sauce.

I haven't posted in the past week because my friend Emily was visiting from Ann Arbor. We did many, many awesome things, one of which was visit Portland Sunday night. More pictures and blurbs will come later, but I wanted to touch on one significant element of our Portland visit: Powell's. I'd never been there before, and now I understand why it has so much hype surrounding it. It is the ultimate destination for a bibliophile: it's like the biggest bookstore you can imagine, like maybe double the average B&N, but the vast majority of the books it contains are USED! It was heaven. We were there for quite some time. I bought five books I'm really excited about - first I am reading The Undercover Economist. So far, so great. Kind of like Freakanomics but with more content and makes you feel smarter. It's like an interesting textbook.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gearing up

"Running is a big question mark that's there each and every day. It asks you, 'Are you going to be a wimp or are you going to be strong today?'" - Peter Maher, Canadian marathon runner

Yes, Peter, that is an excellent question. Every day when I get home from work, that is what it boils down to. Running on the weekend is no problem - I can log my long run and usually another short run without too many problems. But on the four days I work (10 hrs/day), 90% of the time the last thing I want to do is work out. That's why I love doing personal training - it forces me to work out twice a week. I've realized that training for any sort of race is hell for a procrastinator like me - I kick my own ass the few weeks before I have a race, but four months out its SO hard. When I get home kickin' back on my couch, crafting a delicious meal, or doing something else fun are so much more appealing that running 2 or 3 miles. Because it's only 2 or 3 miles, right? I mean, how much of a difference can that make? Answer: ALOT when you slack off for a few weeks.

I'm pretty sure the only solution to this problem, at least for me, is to sign up frequently for races. That's why I'm running the Mercer Island 10K March 22 - that will keep me right on track to finish the half marathon at the end of June.

And interesting randomness for today:

This shit is crazy. I'm all for having healthy, active kids, but this is not cool.

Very insightful Top Chef chart ranking all of the contestents and showing who REALLY is the best. If you don't watch this show, you lose.

Morbidly obese but afraid of weight loss surgery? Well now you can have the procedure done through one of your "natural orifices!" Does this creep anyone else out as much as it does me?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Impressed by Rachel Ray?

So don't ask me why, but awhile ago I ened up watching an episode of 30 Minute Meals during my post-work zone out time. It was a vegetarian episode, so I was curious enough to sit through her twittering. She made two dishes, one of which was an underwhelming orzo salad. Mixing together orzo, feta, spinach, and sundried tomato - holy shit, what a revelation! Let's pay you millions of dollars to write books and go on TV! Luckily she made up for that creative failure with the main dish: eggplant steaks. These exceeded every expectation I had of them. They will definitely get made again at our house. You can search for the original recipe if you'd like on the Food Network site, but I modified it a little and my version is as follows:

Mediterranean Eggplant Cutlets (sounds way better than "Eggplant Steak" - EW)
-1 medium eggplant, ends trimmed, sliced into four thick slices lengthwise. Slice off the rounded end on the two slices so that all pieces are uniform thickness.
-2 red peppers, cut in half and seeded
-olive oil
-S&P (sea and freshly ground, respectively)
-spinach - 4 c. fresh or 1/2 package frozen (if it's frozen thaw and drain it first)
-14 oz. can of fire-roasted tomatoes, drained (can sub some sundried if you'd like, or omit)
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-tub o' hummus
-bread crumbs (I used Italian for extra flavor, and bc that's what we had!)

Fire up the grill (or cast iron grill pan) and preheat the oven to 400F. Once the grill is hot, brush both sides of each eggplant slice with olive oil, S&P, and throw on the grill for 3-4 minutes a side. Put the red peppers on now, too, skin side down. They will need a solid 10 minutes or so to get nice and roasty.

Meanwhile (or after the grilling is done, depending on your multitasking abilities) heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium heat. Sautee the garlic for a few minutes, being careful not to burn it. Add the well-drained tomatoes and roasted red peppers and sautee for another three minutes or so. Add the spinach and heat through.

Line up the grilled eggplant slices on a baking sheet. Top evenly with veggie mixture. Next, spread with hummus. You want to use up the entire tub. I know, I know, it sounds really weird, but just do it. Lastly, top with an even layer of bread crumbs atop the hummus. Pop in the oven for 5-10 minutes, or until the bread crumbs begin to brown.

I served mine with some freshly cooked millet and it was v. tasty. Any other hot grain would do, as well as pasta, potato dish, fresh bread, etc., etc. Oh, and if you like things saucy marinara pairs nicely with this. Serves 4 with a side, 2 if you're really hungry or want lunch leftovers.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Back With Good News!

I've been a horrible blogger the past few weeks, sorry about that. A ton of stuff has actually happened, but now things seem to have returned to normal, pretty much.

In summary: after six months of worrying pretty much constantly, I got confirmation Friday that I will definitely NOT be losing my job! It is SUCH a relief! The past month especially has been really stressful. In the next few weeks I find out if I will be transferred to a different site, though, which actually could end up being a good thing. Also, we moved towards the end of January, and though I'm totally psyched with our new house and location, moving is never all that fun.
So, January = suck, but February looks to = awesome! I'm keeping my job, just had a great weekend away with the BF on the Olympic Peninsula (enjoy the pretty pics I took!), are having a Valentine extravaganza weekend coming up with lots of social activities, AND now we're going to Vegas with some friends at the end of the month!

The past three weeks I've been HORRIBLE with my running....probably running 2-3 miles, twice a week. Bad, bad, bad. Need to get back into it. I love it when I'm consistent, but as soon as I start slacking off I spiral down this vortex of hating the idea of exercise. Oh, I also haven't cooked all that much (at least, haven't cooked creatively...)

But that's enough of me! I'm back to super awesome posts about food, running, and random other stuff you should find interesting!