October 30, 2008


How beautiful is this vegetable? Fractal Beauty. Math. Art. Food. AND IT TASTES GOOD! BETTER THAN YOU HAVE ANY RIGHT TO EXPECT.

In short, the Roasted Winter Vegetables recipe works equally well if you use the following vegetables instead:

- 3 french radishes from the winter garden, chopped into 1 cm rounds
- 8 brussel sprouts, halved
- 3 leeks, cleaned and sliced into 1 cm rounds
- 1 head of romanesco, cleaned and chopped


October 25, 2008

Waking Up

Arvay's self-reflection post put me in an inquisitive frame of mind.

Past BT floated around doing much of whatever felt right at the time and through a great stroke of luck, eventually found herself to current BT's position -- on her 4th career and in a wonderful, loving relationship. It's a great fit for the wacky path she took, but not one that anyone could have planned in advance by looking at past BT.

Future BT is getting many of the benefits of my current life. I regularly sacrifice free time, and take on stress and frustration in the career world for the long-term benefits I hope the amazing training, experience, and financial trade-offs in my current job will provide in the future. When work is crazy, these sacrifices bleed over into my personal life, and many times require E to make sacrifices as well.

In general, I try very hard to force current BT to be balanced. To look at the sacrifices I am making for the current and future intellectual stimulation and financial benefits of my job and to keep them in check against the other sources of pleasure in my life: my relationship with E, exercise, extended family, social life, food, reading, travel, etc.

October has been the slowest month I've had at work since starting as a neophyte lawyer. I've cooked more and spent more quality time with E. I've payed more attention to the garden. I visited my grandmother, saw my sister, and spoken to my mother and brother more. It's been a nice change and it's made me wonder if I could somehow find a way to meet more of my goals at the same time even when work is busy.

Generally, I love my job and feel very lucky to have a career that is intellectually stimulating, requires me to learn new things every day, and allows me to feel useful and helpful. In fact, I think I love it even more when it is crushing and overwhelming than I do when it is less intense. When it is less intense, I have time to think about the other things I also enjoy and could be doing with my time. When it is insane, there is no time to do anything but try to stay afloat.

This morning, as I woke before my alarm to go out for my long run with B, I couldn't help but notice that I didn't wake before my alarm for my runs before work any day this week. Today's activities (long run with a friend, making waffles and eggs and enjoying them with E, chores at home with E, and a friend's wedding) inspired me to wake, relaxed and ready for my day to begin, without any reminder. My day-to-day during the work-week life, however, often finds me in the morning with my alarm ringing, wishing I could just sleep-in, run later, spend less time at the office, and come home earlier.

I've been pretty good at keeping this desire at bay this month, and forcing myself to get up, but Arvay's post reminded me *why* I fight the desire to be lazy. I, too, feel like I owe my future self -- I owe my future self a healthy body, good relationships with people I care about, fun memories, and some semblance of financial stability. In order to give her these things, I have to make efforts to live life today with all of my long term goals in mind.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, Arvay's post was a nice reminder of why I sometimes fall out of balance, and why it's okay. It's because I care about future BT. What a positive way to see it.

October 22, 2008

Pizza Philosophy

Since the economy, and perhaps not so incidentally, work, slowed down, I've been cooking more.

Last week, on Sunday, I made homemade pizza dough and let it rise most of the week, before cooking our first homemade pizza P1000937which we cooked and let cool on the pizza stone for which we registered.

It was delicious.

However, thankfully, there was leftover dough.

So, tonight, I endeavored to make the second homemade pizza.

The Pizza Stone Did Not Agree.

Happily, I stretched the frozen after 6 days of cool-rising in the fridge dough. It looked so happy and civilized, even better than the straight from rising stage version I'd made a week prior.

Sliced grape tomatoes, basil, and sliced wet mozzerella -- you can imagine where this goes...


Our wedding-gifted pizza stone exploded into three parts. I wouldn't have believed it had I not been watching the rise of the dough and browning of the toppings myself -- a 7 minute rise at 550 F doesn't take that long to observe, and I love food, so, yeah, I was camped out in front of the oven window tonight. What? Anyways--it was a phenomenal event. What kind of energy must have been stored to cause the stone to split like this? (Mind you, we didn't move anything before taking this picture -- this is exactly what nature plus an electric oven created!):


And now, I must say, I wholeheartedly endorse the metal circular tins with holes in the bottom for pizza cooking in the oven. I aspire to own one soon!

Also, pre-cooked pizza sauce is better than fresh tomatoes cooked while the dough rises. Enough said.

Happy cooking!

October 15, 2008

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

The Good:

Passing the blowtorch and discovering all the different ways you can brulée a crème for a friend's birthday dessert (some were brown sugar, some were white).


In addition to the burnt cream and brownies from F, we feasted on fresh mixed greens for 6 trimmed from our winter garden and 3 different kinds of macaroni & cheese from scratch. Delicious! (I will post the winning recipe at a later date)

The Bad:

This morning, when I got up for my run at 7 AM, it was too dark to leave so I stayed in bed. Grumpy. Then I couldn't go back to sleep. I hate this time of year. I could never live in Alaska in the winter. Tomorrow, I'll have to fit it in and go late to work. Plus I have a head cold.

The Ugly:

The stock markets.

Also, discovering black aphids attacking our chard:


We'll be spraying or treating soon, we just haven't figured out with what, exactly. E showed me how the few that made it into the kitchen could be killed very effectively with the blowtorch. Somehow I suspect that will not be a good option for controlling them in the garden. All suggestions for how best to handle these little pests are welcome.

October 12, 2008

Two lessons

Don't do long runs in cotton socks.

If you do, you will rip the hell out of your feet and toes. All of a sudden, you will understand why people claim that running ruins their feet. It will not be a pleasant revelation. If you do not already own specialized running socks that you love, I highly recommend investing in some Balegas: No seam; Thin on top for breathing, Padded on the bottom for cushion; Made of material that does not cause chafing.

I had no idea how much my Balegas were contributing to my overall foot comfort (I haven't really ever run a long run without them) until I ran out of clean ones before this weekend's long run and just packed a pair of short cotton athletic socks.


Now, I'm going to order some more. Also, I think I'm going to try a pair of the Injinji toe socks. Now that I realize how much of a difference my Balegas have been making, I figure, what the heck? I'll spend $15 and try the wacky toe-socks that some of the ultra-marathoning folks swear by.

72 hours is a solid maximum full-throttle period

In the last 72 hours, I fit in entirely too much.

I'm not sure I can recall the last time I did 3 nights in a row out on the town. But, we just did it again: Thursday, drinks in our hometown at a local restaurant while visiting friends had a late dinner after their arrival from their California road trip; Friday, a delicious dinner at Delfina followed by drinks 'til midnight with a large group; and Saturday, a shopping trip, a hair appointment, and a wedding. Add in all the associated ordinary life stuff like work, a professional lunch on Friday, running, and a quick 'bout of food poisoning from our dinner on Thursday before the out-of-towners arrived, and well... I'm spent.

Tonight, I could not bring myself to attack the todo list. It will have to wait 'til tomorrow. Sleep is coming very soon.

October 8, 2008

Wednesday Happiness

The third garden box is now fully planted!

After following the soaking (first in a baking soda solution, overnight, then, briefly in a rubbing alcohol bath) and planting instructions, the gourmet garlic that made the cut has been planted in 7 rows of 6 bulbs:


I suspect we will have entirely too much garlic next spring. What a delightful problem to have!

We also planted more onion seeds and some artichoke seeds. It should be interesting to see how the artichoke plants play out.

In other news, tonight's dinner was deliciouis. If you are looking for a healthy, vietnamese-inspired salad dish that is filling enough to call dinner, I recommend this:


Tapioca nooodle cucumber salad

-1 package tapioca noodles (or,if you prefer glass noodles)
-1/2 head garlic, casings removed
-1 bunch cilantro (coriander)
-lime juice
-2 T vietnamese fish sauce
-2 medium cucumbers (or 1 medium ordinary cucumber, plus 2 small/medium cucumbers from the japanese cucumber plant from the garden, minus the bitter stem-side portion) sliced into half-rounds
-2 small "cherry bomb" peppers and 1 jalapeno, minced
-1 shallot, chopped
-1 T turmeric
-1 inch ginger, peeled
-1/4 cup brown sugar

1. pulse cilantro, garlic, lime juice, fish sauce, turmeric, brown sugar, and ginger in cuisinart until the cilantro is evenly chopped in small 1/4 inch square-sized pieces.

2. place cucumbers, shallots, and peppers in a bowl, cover with the sauce from #1.

3. boil tapioca noodles 'til done. Rinse in cold water. Chop into bite sized pieces.

4. Mix noodles into the bowl and serve.


October 6, 2008

Gourmet Garlic Overview

There was much celebration in our household tonight! The gourmet garlic finally arrived:


Immediately, we postponed healthy night for a night of tasting and cooking garlic with the appropriate sides (aka beef and wine).

I made baked new york steak from the crazy buy-a-portion-of-a-grass-fed-cow-experiment-that-E-entered on the side of yukon gold potatoes topped with a bordelaise sauce in accordance with some traditional (aka French) recipes. I *never* make French food (too complicated, heavy, and labor-intensive, even though, when I do, it's awesome...), so E was in heaven.

I really should make more French food. Sure, it's heavier, but tonight, we split a 0.8 lb steak, 4 yukon gold potatoes, and a saucepot full of heavy, delicious, buttery (3 Tb), broth-heavy, vegetable filled, flour-thickened and herb-infused wine sauce. After finishing dinner, we are not the *least* bit hungry, and yet, we are not *full* since the food was so rich. Calorically, I suspect it's actually a wash, or possibly even less than what we'd normally put away against what I normally prepare. It's just the volume that is so different.

Anyways, back to the garlic (and, by the way, how much we are both going to smell tomorrow -- JK, how stoked are you that we do not live together anymore?).

In case there was any doubt, E is the best husband 'cause (a) he knew how excited I was about the garlic and IM'd me as soon as it arrived; (b) he indulged me and did a raw tasting of all varietals before dinner; (c) in the course of doing so, he also realized we both would be needing ranitidine long before I would have realized it and brought it to the kitchen before we ate; and (d) after dinner, he engaged in the broiled garlic dessert tasting despite not loving garlic even close to as much as I do.

Yeah. We're gonna smell awesome tomorrow.

Anyways, the final verdict, in order of overall ranking:


1 (tie): California Early (Raw: #1 for E, #4 for BT; Cooked: #2 for E; #1 for BT)
1 (tie): Romanian Red (Raw: #2 for E; #2 for BT; Cooked #4 for E; #2 for BT) (also, given how easy it is to get California Early in California, it may be that if it grows well, Romanian Red will be the de facto winner solely due to its heirloom status and unique caché)

3. Susanville (Raw: #3 for E; #1 for BT; Cooked #3 for E; #3 for BT)
4. German White (Raw: #4 for E; #2 for BT; Cooked #1 for E; #4 for BT)
5. Chesnock Red (Raw: #5 for E; #5 for BT; Cooked #5 for E; #5 for BT)

We agreed to plant all remaining cloves (we only used one clove for each varietal for tonight's experimentation, you know, we merely consumed 2.5 cloves each in addition to the 1.5 cloves included in the bordelaise sauce...) for all varietals, except, we agreed, that we should really just cook the remainder of the Chesnock Red and avoid the effort of recreating it. It's just too mellow for us. The raw comments included E saying, "this isn't garlic at all." Once cooked, I noted that it was "mild, sticky & starchy," while E said, "It tastes like parsnip." The flavors were interesting, certainly. They just weren't what we were looking for in garlic. If we had infinite garden space, perhaps, but as you know, we only have one raised bed left, and there are additional onions and artichokes to plant as well.

October 4, 2008

Yoga For Running

This morning, I decided to try to put together my own yoga for runners sequence. The details of how I came to it are below, but if you are looking for a 45 minute to 1-hour yoga sequence that will be a great cross-training workout on a non-running day to help you get ready for your next run, I recommend trying this (borrows heavily from Ashtanga -- if you need modifications or instructions on how to get into these poses, I recommend David Swenson's Ashtanga Yoga "The Practice Manual"):

-5 Surynamaskara (Sun Salutation) A
-5 Suryanmaskara B
-1 Padangusthasana for 5 deep breaths.
-1 Padahastasana for 5 deep breaths.
-2 sets of Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) on each side for 5 deep breaths
-2 sets of Parivtritta Trikonasana (Reverse Triangle Pose) on each side for 5 deep breaths
-2 sets of Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose) on each side for 5 deep breaths
-2 sets of Parivritta Parsvakonasana (I opt for the opposite elbow to knee twisted prayer version) on each side for 5 deep breaths
-2 sets of Garudasana for 5 deep breaths on each side
-2 sets of Trianga Mukhaikapada Paschimottanasana for 5 deep breaths on each side
-2 sets each of Janu Sirsanasa A, Janu Sirsanasa B, and Janu Sirsana C for 5 deep breaths on each side
-2 sets each of Marichyasana A, Marichyansana B (I do the modification that looks like a half lotus while hugging the upright knee and not leaning), and Marichyasana C
-2 sets of Masyendrasana for 5 deep breaths
-1 Gomukhasana A for 5 deep breaths
-1 Gomukhasana B (aka Cow Face Pose!) for 5 deep breaths
-2 sets of your favorite variation of Kapotasana


Ever since I started running semi-regularly, I've sworn by yoga as the reason why I rarely suffer from the running-related injuries that many of my running friends suffer. Well, in truth, I credit yoga, *AND* the fact that I'm likely to bail on a run if my body sends a strong signal that I should do so.

I like to claim that I average 1 yoga session a week, but, in truth, I am a compulsive stretcher and most days at work, I spend a bit of time in my desk chair typing or on the phone with my legs in full lotus, half lotus, or a modified Bharadvajasana II. In meetings where I am in danger of falling asleep, I do these positions with my legs and sometimes even go so far as to do prayer-behind-the-back and the arms from eagle (Garudasana) (I try to remember to avoid the arm poses when I'm in meetings with clients).

About a year ago, I self-diagnosed with piriformis syndrome that I could generally control with yoga focused on hip openers (such as Bryan Kest's Power Yoga), intelligent training, rest, stretching, watching my weight, etc. If I don't pay attention to my body, however, it will let me know with mild sciatica in my left leg coupled with strong/dull outer hip pain. Thankfully, both symptoms have historically been alleviated with stretching and rest.

Last week, I logged over 37 miles, which meant I was 10 miles over my mileage from the week before. In other words, I seriously broke the "no more than a 10% per week mileage increase rule" and, of course, since I'm working on speed, many of these miles were at medium to hard intensity.

Sure enough, Sunday afternoon, after my long run, while shopping for groceries, I had to stop several times to rub my left leg and stretch due to pains shooting down the back of my left leg, my left outer hip, and, as a bonus, for the first time, my left hip flexor had gotten into the game as well, which caused a weird pain pattern across the front of my left thigh (thanks to the power of the Internet, I now know that the pain traces the Sartorious muscle). Awesome.

So, I took Monday off.

By Tuesday, I felt much better, and it was apparent that the increased mileage and speed training had paid off -- despite taking it *very* easy on the effort, my 4 miler was much faster than I expected. My runs for the rest of the week were great as well and E & I easily fit in Kest power yoga #1 on Thursday night. For the first time in at least 6 months, I found myself ready for the weekend's runs without having logged a single mile during the week (including super-slow recovery miles) that was slower than a 9:50 min/mile pace.

However, last night, I expressed concern that perhaps I should skip today's 6-miler in favor of yoga because my hip was starting to tighten up again. E surprised me by having a very strong opinion that I should definitely do yoga instead of running. (This is an amazing change for the guy who initially had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into our once-a-week-together-at-home yoga practice.)

The speed increases are very seductive, and I really wanted to run today, but I begrudgingly agreed that I should do some yoga instead. A local class would be great, except they were all at inconvenient times given our other plans for the day.

So, I decided to see if I could design my own yoga for runners sequence, which is how I ended up with the sequence posted at the beginning of this post in Italics.

First off, I started looking at Sciatica.org's list of recommended yoga poses -- and I decided to incorporate them all. Then, I included a few poses I knew had provided me with hip relief in the past. Then, all I needed to complete the series was a good warm-up, so, I decided to start with the Ashtanga Sun Salutations series. I knew from experience that it is guaranteed to get the muscles nice and warm, and I liked that it would rope in some core body work as well as some arm strength since the rest of this series is so leg-focused.

Overall, it took me about an hour to finish this entire series. However, I was consulting my Practice Manual for modifications and transitions where applicable, so I suspect that with some effort I could get this down to 50 minutes, or maybe even 45 minutes.

I spent the next several hours after this workout very pleased with how relaxed my hips, buttocks, and lower back felt. I'll check in after my long run tomorrow to ensure it did the trick, but today, I feel great. I think I'm going to try to incorporate this sequence into my running schedule more regularly.

[Update: Sunday's long run was the best I've had in a long time. I definitely need to try to do this series more often.]

October 2, 2008


HOUSING: Monday (you know the day the S&P lost almost 9%) we made an offer on a house. They countered the next day, and we found out that a house we really liked sold for way less than it was listed and we were very disappointed that we hadn't been the ones to successfully low-ball the sellers on that one. So, we let the counter-offer expire and we looked at another house on Wednesday. We haven't found anything we're in love with, so we're still in process...

GARDEN: We've finished two boxes of the winter garden, and now I'm just waiting for my shipment to arrive from the Gourmet Garlic Gardens (don't you love the Internet?) to plant the third box (which, in addition to the garlic, will be full of things to over-winter, including artichokes, red onions, and white onions). The winter garden currently looks like this:


TRAVEL: After 5 years of flying Delta back and forth between California and Atlanta, we finally *almost* had enough miles to get free flights for Christmas and New Year's. Round-trip flights were the most expensive they've ever been since we started this regular trek -- it would have cost $1400 for the flights we wanted. So, instead, we bought $220 worth of miles and paid the $37 per person fee and we'll be flying to Atlanta on miles. And, we decided to spend most of the Delta miles savings on our New Year's trip to Savannah, Georgia.

LAWYERING: Work is relatively slow for me for the first time since I started working as a lawyer, really. I'm definitely enjoying it, although, of course, I have a slight fear for the economy and hope that it doesn't stay too slow, too long.

RUNNING: I dropped a recent race because my sister couldn't do it with me. We got last-minute invitations to a wedding on the date of my next race, so I'll be skipping that one too. So, it looks like I've got my favorite half marathon as the only remaining race I'll be doing this year. But, my speed efforts continue to pay off, so I look forward to trying to set a PR at that one before building up distance for 2009's spring marathon(s).

I think that covers it.