Thursday, September 11, 2014
I am out of my usual environment right now. Unable to walk into the other room and grab a piece of fruit or raid the fridge. This is not all bad of course, that raiding the fridge or pantry can be a dangerous thing.
But..............it can also be enlightening.
I love vegetables. I always have, but in the last few years, this love of vegetables has become keener.
Restaurants of the world.........listen up......vegetables are pretty (when they aren't overcooked to gray mush), they provide colorful contrast on a plate, they FILL the plate with relatively inexpensive fare.
Picture, if you will two contrasting plates recently served to me.
1- A senior portion turkey dinner. (I love senior portions since it is less likely to be more than I could or should eat and I can't take it home for the next day when on the road)
White plate. Mashed potatoes (no gravy-my choice) More white. Two scoops of their so-called signature celery dressing. Kind of a greenish brownish non color. On top of the dressing were placed a few small slices of roast turkey. About 2 oz. which is great, but again, we all know what color turkey is....hmm pretty bland. Now, give them credit, there is a small container of cranberry sauce. yay color! Unfortunately, though I like cranberry juice and the flavor of the actual berry, I am not a fan of jellied cranberry goo so it is removed from my plate right away. Sorry, that's just me.
2- My indulgence meal. ( Every once in a while we need to indulge)
White plate. Arranged on this plate are another dish with 5 or 6 beautiful scallops (I forgot to count before I dug in) these were sauted with a touch of Grand marnier they were presented with a slice of orange and slivers of scallions that were cut on the diagonal. There was a small portion of white rice (would have been nicer if it were a rice blend but the seasoned white rice was merely a garnish item for me and I took those scallions and mixed them into the rice I ate. The rest of the plate was filled with lovely steamed vegetables. Carrots sliced on the diagonal. Cauliflower and broccoli.
To be fair. The first meal I describe was my choice and I could have/should have read the menu more closely and tried to sub a vegetable or salad for at least one of those starches. But, I didn't and frankly, on their menu, vegetable options were extremely sparse. My husbands meal came with a serving of dismally overcooked green beans which would not have exactly thrilled me either.
My point is that to me, the colorful plate was much more appealing even before I tasted a single bite. I know as a cook, that the only pricier element of my plate waas the scallops. And...........that second entree came with a fantastic salad which was mixed greens, shredded carrot, sliced cucumber, tomato wedges, and strips of red and yellow peppers.
Ok, I did food service when we worked on the railcar. In that setting sometimes fresh produce was problematic since our food storage was limited and the shopping had to be done for a week long trip before rolling with no options to re-supply on the go. But, I happen to know it CAN be done. And more than that it's not so much a problem with a brick and mortar restaurant. It does require prep work. Honestly, you don't have to be a gourmet chef to slice and steam vegetables. If I can do it anyone can.
All right. I'm done complaining about this. Just needed to vent. LOL
Saturday, September 06, 2014
In the kitchen, that is!
Last week when we were together, my husband's sister said he was a picky eater. My mother used to say that too. But, to be totally fair to my DH, his "pickyness" as related to my mom's cooking, had more to do with some of her cooking methods which I also found unpalatable.
Mom would quarter a whole onion and/or green pepper....that was what would suffice for dice in her kitchen. UGH....I always hated the feeling of big pieces of green pepper or of other vegetables she treated this way. The flavor of the "trinity" in cooking was great, but not those big slimy hunks of things.
My husband's mother on the other hand, was a very bland cook. Salt & pepper were just about the sum total of the spices and herbs in her kitchen.
I grew up in a town that had a very strong Sicilian influence. Since we met during the summer and our dating at the end of summer consisted of weekend visits when he drove a couple hours to spend the weekend at my parent's home, he was introduced to a whole new world of flavors. He loved what he tasted, just not all of my mother's versions. LOL
On the other hand, when I would make the trip to spend a weekend at his parents, I was astounded at the lack of flavor and the lack of variety. The first cue should have been when she served "I-talian spaghetti" The pasta was broken into one inch pieces, the meat sauce was hamburger, tomato and salt and pepper. I'm not sure if she even had any onion saute'd into the sauce but I know there was no garlic, oregano or basil. She served a salad which was iceberg lettuce and salad dressing in what my family would have thought were dessert dishes. Um....I've always been a lover of veggies. 1/2 cup of iceberg lettuce is a garnish. LOL
Amazingly, our long distance dating moved eventually toward our engagement and marriage and during that time we melded our tastes in foods. That's not to say that once married, we didn't have some tense meals together since I was constantly making things that he would look at strangely with a "what's this?" dissection of his plate. In all of this, I would definitely not say he was picky since he soon was asking me for these exotic meals. LOL
Of course, I have learned that there are certain things he will not try.
I have learned to play hide and seek with certain ingredients. For instance, recently I made a minestrone type soup which included fennel and eggplant in the ingredient list. Neither of these things would he eat if he saw them but the flavor of the finished soup was very good and because I dice and mince, the identity of the ingredients disappear in the finished product. LOL Look, I'm not being deceitful, just smart!
Now, today, I started the day with a seek. I have all kinds of things that need to be used before we leave home on a vacation trip.
The beauty of the internet is that it allows me to pick the brains of my fellow cook sparkfriends and also to peruse so many recipes!
I'm a person who loves to read cookbooks. And I do mean....read! LOL I have shelves of beloved cookbooks in my office but I love being able to type a word or two into a search and find hundreds, no maybe thousands of recipes which are the basis of ideas for me.
I get to play!
Do you play? Life is so much richer when you approach it in a playful way.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
"Don't make me run. I'm full of chocolate!" —Uter"
That's a quote from the Simpsons show.....it tickled my funny bone but I don't think it's entirely accurate for me. I'm more the " Oooo Chocolate! I'll run for that!" kind of girl. LOL
This was today's Garfield comic strip. I swear Jon Arbuckle knows me! LOL
Guess that says it all!
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
But do we even want to be?
As we go through life, changes happen. We tend to think about a lot of the changes that accompany age as being negative but really they are just different not necessarily bad.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have appreciated my younger self. I should have appreciated the body I resided in at 25 and taken care of it in a manner that it deserved. However, at that time, I was (as always) super critical of my body and too busy (the excuse) to treat that body with respect.
Now, at 62, I look into the mirror and can see so many changes. I may be asked for an ID to get the senior discount (that's something isn't it?) but I haven't been asked to prove my age to buy liquor for many, many years. LOL
But, as I said earlier, all the changes are not bad. I wouldn't want to go back to my 20's, not really, even while I peer at my reflection and recall my former self.
I can look back realistically and know that I was not always as heavy as I thought I was but I can also note that I am far fitter now than I was back then. I am stronger both physically and psychologically.....Ok, I don't have hand strength, my wrists and fingers are exhibiting the ravages of time but I am strong. I can do some things today that I would not have dreamed possible in my 20's. I know that my diet is far healthier than that of those earlier years. I have attained the age of recognizing what is important to me, treasuring and optimizing those things while letting the other "stuff" go. Believe me, that is a valuable lesson that seems to only come with age.
There is an old joke about two bulls standing on a hill out in a field. As the two bulls survey their field, they see a herd of cows looking lovely in the sunshine and the young bull says to the older one...."what do you say we run down this hill and get one of those cows?" The older bull just shakes his head and says " you go right ahead.....but I'm going to walk down there and take them all"
There is a reason I have had these rambling thoughts today. I read an article here on SP today about getting back into shape after pregnancy. One might think this article had little value for someone like me but in it, that thought about never being the same but better for the miracle of nurturing life, reached me to the core. A reminder that for every season there is a reason. It may seem natural to look with regret at what we've lost but we need to remember what we've gained. All change is not bad.
In the words of "old blue eyes"
Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
Don't be afraid of change my friends. We'll never be the same again, but then we really don't want to be do we?
Sunday, August 10, 2014
I haven't run a race in a long time. Injuries kept me from the road races and common sense said that recreational running was more appropriate....for a while. LOL
Of course, one sure way to get me to do anything is to call it a mini spark reunion. And that my friends is what happened. Wascallywone had a change in plans and was looking for something to do this weekend. Catantigo, her daughter and her sisters were going to be doing the Tater Trot so it was a natural. Two years ago, my husband and I had done this with Cat and had had a great time. You see where this is going don't you?
Now Debbieck is relocating to another state and even though joining the group meant many hours in the car for a brief visit and lunch, she and her very brave husband joined the group as well. They had other commitments so couldn't be there for the walk/run but got there in time for the reward ceremony when the reunion began.
What a fun thing to do!
But, when I run a race, even when I haven't been training, I have this burning desire to bring home a trophy. That is what got me into trouble in the past don't you know?! Pride goes before the fall!
So....I tried very hard to tell myself NOT to think about the trophy I brought home the last time I ran this race. I told myself to erase the finish time of that prior trot from my memory. Two years older, not adequately trained, no competition for years now...this is about fun, not bling. LOL
My facebook friends already know that I did not bring home a trophy unless you want to call those blisters on the toes of my right foot bling. So I need to ask the question.
Does a trophy need to be gilt?
Remember that I have not raced or trained for this really so when I look at the Garmin info, I am pleased. As is common, my first mile was accompanied by some wheezing and coughing, I should have used my inhaler before starting out but forgot. Doh!! LOL given that, I was surprised to see that mile one was done in 11 minutes. That's ok for me. Miles 2, 3, & 4 were very consistent right around 12 min give or take a few seconds. Not superb race pace perhaps but I'm fine with that since I know that it is a safe pace for me in my untrained state. Unfortunately, some blistered toes from some walks in the last week or so were not as resolved as I thought. Or, rather they were resolved but the skin was young and tender and not tough enough for what I was putting it through. So, mile 5 was slightly slower but still very respectable for me.
Mile six was another story. I was pushing through the discomfort but found it very necessary to walk at times feeling as though the toebox of my right shoe was just one big blister. During this mile, I was still doing a reasonable back and forth with a couple of fellas I recall from that race two years ago...yes, they are older, I know that one of them is in his eighties. I could be tempted to allow pride to make me feel badly in the struggle to keep up with these guys but instead I look at them with admiration and feel honored to be able to run at pace with them for awhile. At one point when I pulled ahead very briefly the older of the two said "that's ok for you to pull ahead, you're half my age!" to which I replied, "I don't think so!" That of course demanded the whole age discussion and when I told him I was 62, LOL, his disbelief was a kind of a trophy for me. Why do I do this? is it for the trophy or is it to be as fit as I can be at any age?
Shortly after this exchange a woman I had been dogging throughout the race looked over her should and asked, "did I hear you say you're 62?" We started to talk as we trotted next to each other and she obviously felt the need to talk. She told me that her mother has cancer and is going through chemo, once again, and it's obvious it's important for her to talk about these concerns. I might have been able to keep my pacing with the guys. Heck, I know I could have. It would have been painful but I had it in me. But....I took advantage of this other trophy of running these races....connection with others. The final 3/4 mile was much slower. Who cares? Maybe I wouldn't have made it onto the awards stage anyway but if I had, would it be any better take away than the brief connection to another runner? I don't think so!
So, the 2014 Tater Trot was a prize winner for me. Time with friends. Finding out that I have more in me than I might have thought. Affirmation that continuing to work at this health and fitness journey is worth it....surprising folks with your age is fun! And finally, being human, connecting to others.....You know? I think these things are all gilt!
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