Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Running update: Now 100% More Random

Without an event looming in my future, my running life is pretty random.

I mean, it's not like I stop my Supah Technical schedule of 2x/week tempo runs and 1x/week shortish-long runs, but my End Goal About Which I Fantasize Constantly during actual training for an actual booked event is non-existent.

Because I don't have an actual booked event. Yet.

I was *thisclose* to hitting the Register button for the upcoming Jungle Run 10K, but then got an email from Bubba asking me, all subtle-like, if I would maybe-possibly-if-I'm-free want to go sit in a luxury box at the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby in Anaheim this year.

It was very literally a race to see whether I'd reply, "FUCK YEAH", or shit my pants first.

The reply won by a narrow margin.

I then realized that we'd be traveling for the half-week of baseball-related festivities on the day of the Jungle Run, so that snuffed out those running plans and nothing else has really caught my eye since. I mean, yes, I'll do a turkey trot somewhere this year, but that's not until the end of November (obv), so clearly I'll need something before then.

But what? Any ideas, party people?

Just so you know, here are some of my race requirements: (Yes, I have many needs. You just don't know the half of it.)
  1. Should be located within a 25 mile radius of San Jose, CA
  2. Should begin between the hours of 6-8am
  3. Should not include the following words in its event name: Mountain, Death, Marathon, Tri or Ultra
  4. Should not include other sports unless the other sport is cycling or pie-eating
  5. If it's a trail run - it shouldn't be longer than a 5K (for now, I have to try this once at least. GIVE ME A BREAK, ALREADY.)
  6. If it's a road race - it should be shorter than a half marathon because you already know I'm not doing one of those this year as a rule.
That's all I can think of now, but you know there are more so I just want to warn you for whatever reason. And now you can share your suggestions.

Also random in my running life has been this new and exciting twinge of pain in my left Achilles tendon. It's not pleasant and began rearing its naughty head as soon as I hit the road after my duathlon. So, I ran "quietly", as I like to tell myself, to see if I could figure out what was causing this pain. When "quiet" (which is just me running without the mind-numbing distraction of my iPod and traffic) returned zero answers, I took a hard look at my stretching routine. But, my stretching routine has not changed or wavered, so that didn't help much either. Though I did have a nice stretch on our new patio which I'm sure was great entertainment for my judge-y neighbors.

I finally decided it must be the shoes. Because they are oldish and have turned that tell-tale shade of gray/brown that comes from spending a lot of time racking up miles and kicking up road gack while training for races and what not.

So I got new shoes (no thanks to the Brooks people, yet) and my run this morning felt mostly twinge-free.

And while I was buying new shoes, I also got a new running top in a shade I like to call, "If You Hit Me While I'm Wearing This, There Will Be No Mercy On You In Court."

Also handy is its silky breathiness, which is barely a pair of words, but I think you get what I'm saying. However, by the end of my short tempo run (3 miles) the thing had sort of stretched out even though it wasn't tight to begin with. I imagine that after a longer run, like, say 6 miles or more, it'd start to take on the characteristics of a startling evening gown.

In other It's Broken So I Guess I'll Get a New One AGAIN news, I got another iPod.

My most recent iPod, the generation 3 Nano (?)(you know, the square one), crapped out and would only let me skip forward in my playlist and wouldn't go back to the beginning of my playlist no matter how many swears I lobbed in its general direction. I even tried throwing it on the ground, which did nothing.

Why doesn't that ever work?

If anyone's keeping count, though I'm not sure how or why you would, this would be my 6th iPod, a fact that shames me to no end.

Seriously. I am not one of those Mac humpers who lives and dies by the white apple. I just need to be able to run with tunes plugged into my ears and this is the easiest way to do so. I mean, sure, I could get a Zune or other random knock-off MP3 player, but I just don't have the energy or desire to go back out into the world of over-priced music media players to source one.

So, alas, I bought another Nano (this time in awesome orange, which made me feel a *little* bit better about the purchase) and have since shoved my running playlist on there and begun to mull the possible uses for its built-in video recorder, which I find to be a mostly useless addition that made my purchase needlessly expensive.

Whatever. Perhaps I'll be able to video the fight I'll inevitably get into with someone who tries to run me down with their car even though I'm wearing a safety orange running top. Or homeless people having sex on Los Gatos Creek Trail.


OK - that's as much random running bullshit as you need for one day. I'm sure of it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Farmshare Project: Week 12 [Recipe]

This is me trying to catch up on this project which I laid out for myself not realizing it was going to be so friggen hard to keep track of.

Seriously, they're just vegetables, why do they lead such complicated lives?

To keep up with my vegetables' gallivanting lifestyles, and also to help anyone out there trying to figure out what the F to do with a ton of kale/strawberries/you decide, I added a tab to the blog here that has a long and running list of recipes and posts by vegetable.

Yeah, like THAT was a good idea. Sheesh. Didn't think it was going to be so hard to compile, but apparently I run off at the mouth pretty much all the time about these vegetables, so there was a lot of linking to do. Forgive me if all the links aren't 100% perfect yet because it's going to require some fine-tuning for which I'm not quite yet prepared (or drunk enough).

For now though...

[I can't find the photo even though I *KNOW* I took it.]

Last week's box had:
Mix of Baby Asian Greens
Red Russian Kale
Collard Greens
Radishes French Breakfast
Summer Squash

And their fate was:
We ate them
Broccoli: Broccoli noodle salad (recipe below), Fresh Spring Rolls
Carrots: Broccoli noodle salad (recipe below), Fresh Spring Rolls
Lettuce: Giant salad
Radishes: Giant salad
Strawberries: Strawberry smoothies
Summer Squash: Sauteed with previously stored farmshare onions and garden herbs for a side dish

We left them at the site because UGH ENOUGH ALREADY
Collard Greens

We stored them and they're still edible

We "stored" them and they're in the composter now
Mix of Baby Asian Greens

From left to right: Fresh Spring Rolls, Steamed Vegetables for Broccoli Noodle Salad, Noodles for Broccoli Noodle Salad, Giant Salad

Broccoli Noodle Salad
Recipe by moi

Broccoli, 1 head cut into florets
1 large carrot, shredded
1 handful of string beans, halved, tips removed (optional)
1 serving of rice vermicelli noodles
4 t fish sauce
2 T fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T sugar
1/2 t garlic chili sauce

Noodle salad
Prepare vermicelli according to package directions and don't forget to rinse with cold water and set aside to drain well.
Steam broccoli, carrots and beans for 5-7 minutes or until tender crisp and not limp. Rinse in cold water and set aside.

Whisk together fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, sugar and chili sauce in a large bowl. Then dump in noodles and steamed vegetables. Toss until noodles and vegs are completely coated with the sauce and allow to stand briefly for the flavors to get all mingley.

Eat with chopsticks if you're feeling exotic or with your feet if you're feeling grody yet coordinated.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A rarely worn hat

I'm dusting off my rarely worn Cat Lady hat today so that I can describe for you the ongoing aggravation with our feisty cat, Rocket, and how I may die a mysterious death so I need to enlist you all as witnesses.

As you may remember from the few rare posts I've done about Rocket over the years, she is not what you might consider to be a pleasant animal.

She's pretty and fluffy as all hell, but don't be fooled - she is a monster.

A monster with a taste for Vet Face.

How so? Oh, let me just give you a quick list of examples. When you read these, go ahead and multiply their occurrence by 100 and their bloodletting by 1,000:
  •  When I was in college and dipping my toe into the dangerous waters of self-administered depilatories, she caught a whiff of Nair and went 100% bonkers tearing through my house like someone had lit her tail on fire. (I had not.)(Though I considered it after I saw the damage she did on her tear.) In her ammonia-inspired rage, she tore 3 framed posters (classy) off the walls, overturned 2 chairs, knocked the (very full) trash can over and hissed at her litter box. When I tried to restrain her pick her up to calm her, she filleted both of my forearms so dramatically that I still have scars. That was 12 years ago.
  • Once, when Bubba tried to get her into the cat carrier, she magically doubled in size, began grunting like a wild boar and shit a giant pile on the floor. When Bubba finally captured her with the help of two sofa cushions and a beach towel, she still managed to wriggle free a single hind claw with which she, nearly literally, sliced him a new one. When they arrived at the vet, they actually treated him first because he was actively bleeding. Or maybe because they were just afraid of her. And rightfully so.
  • When I went to pick her up from the aforementioned vet visit, the vet tech approached me in the waiting room after I'd been sitting there for 20 minutes to ask me if I could please come retrieve Rocket from the kennel because she "wouldn't come out". When I went back to see what all the fuss was about, two women with towels were standing back from an open kennel and covering their mouths in horror while the inhabitant of said kennel hissed like a loose cobra, my dear Rocket.
 Really, friends, I could go on. For days.

She is a beautiful, cuddly looking cat without front claws who is slow as all hell and uncoordinated to the point where she can hardly be categorized as a cat anymore, but if you approach her with any intention of affection beyond, perhaps, scratching her between her ears or feeding her a raw bloody brisket, she will rip your face off. Or at least make a hearty attempt.

Well, she would have up until about 6 months ago.

See, this cat, she has started to slow down. She's just about 13 now, which I didn't think was *that* old for cats, but her stride tells me differently. She's very slow. She's awkward and uncoordinated. She doesn't really jump anymore. She runs only to beat the dog into the house or to her food. And she just always looks uncomfortable. Like her bones are creaky.

She reminds me of an old lady.

So, because I try to be a somewhat diligent pet owner, I decided to take her to the vet. For a, like, check-up or something. I say, "or something", because this cat hasn't had a check up in a long time. Like, years? I don't know. She's an indoor-mostly cat and so I've not had any call to put Bubba or myself in harm's way just so that we can transport her to another place and put other people in harm's way. And when I say, "harm", I mean, of course - Rocket.

So what I'm used to are dog check-ups. Because the dog is a social being who accompanies me to work and out walking the neighborhood and to the beach and mountains and other places where she comes in contact with cooties, ticks, rabid wild snowmen and the like. So, she needs check-ups and shots and chicken baby food from the jar because our vet is very sweet like that. Then they coo and fuss over her because she's "perfect!", has the "heart of a marathon runner!", is "the ideal weight", "so sweet", "beautiful", "so young for her age" and so on. It's lovely. Jada loves going to the vet. They give her treats, cuddle her and afterward I walk her down to the dog bakery (yes, this is California, we have these things) and let her pick out a toy or something gay like that.

I'm a social butterfly.

Rocket though? Totally different story. A bad story. That has to start with putting her in the cat carrier, and you know how that goes.

Thankfully, sort of, her Cat Carrier Ferocity has mellowed over the years a bit. And my neighbors (oh how they've saved me) loaned me their top-loading carrier for the transporting of said face-ripping beast. It helps. A lot. And I think it helps that she is slow and creaky, so doesn't put up a fight. She's not wild about me picking her up, but she is slow enough that I can move my delicate parts of the way of her swinging claws before they can open up my forearms.

Well, all of this alleged mellowing of old age has done me a fat lot of good because OH YAY, I've come to find out that, after 3 rounds of orally administered antibiotics, she has been acting a hero but is still infected with an unkillable cootie and now requires subcutaneous antibiotics daily for 6 weeks.

Not know what subcutaneous antibiotics are? Yah, I didn't either.

It's a fancy word for, "You're going to have to inject drugs under the cat's skin with a needle. Every day. For six weeks."

A cat whose life mission is to slice me open and display my innards like one might a frog in 7th grade science class. A cat who has terrified hundreds of people in her 13 year lifespan and rendered seasoned vet techs to quivering messes with her well-seasoned low growl. A cat more raccoon than feline, more wild than domestic, more teeth than fur.

And I get to shamble up to her on a nightly basis and jam a needle in her scruff.

I'll let that sink in for a minute.

Good times, right? Something to get off the couch for, right? Wrong.

So I guess what I'm saying is that, of all the hats I might wear on a day to day basis, this isn't my favorite.

Oh, and if you don't hear from me for a few days, Call. The. Police. - Rocket did it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Farmshare Project: Week 11 [Recipe]

Rest your weary imaginations, friends, this week I have photos.

I mean, not photos of every single thing I made with the farmshare, but you know, some old favorites that you've been in charge of imagining for a few weeks now. I didn't want to risk burning out your brains, so I decided to suck it up and crack out the camera for a moment.

I'm the nicest. It's OK, you can say it. I won't get a big head.

So THAT is what a carrot looks like! All this time I imagined them round.

Last week's box had:
Bunch of Chard
Bag of Fava Beans
Bag of topped Red Beets
Bunch of Broccoli
Bunch of Onions
Baskets of Strawberries
Bunch of Carrots
Bunch of Fennel
Bag of Oyster Mushrooms
Mystery Item which turned out to be cabbage and squash

And their fate was:
We ate them
Bunch of Broccoli: Broccoli noodle salad
Bunch of Onions: Chopped on hot dogs (oh yes, we're WT), grilled with fish
Strawberries: Strawberry rhubarb crisp
Lettuce: Salads of many varieties
Bunch of Carrots: Broccoli noodle salad
Bag of Oyster Mushrooms: In pasta primavera
Cabbage: Asian coleslaw
Squash: Fresh spring rolls

We abandoned them appropriately:
Bunch of Chard

We stored them:
Bag of Fava Beans
Bag of topped Red Beets
Bunch of Fennel

And because it's summer now and YAY my awesome neighbors returned from their Midwest pilgrimage with their mom's homegrown rhubarb (For me? I couldn't! I mean, GIVE IT.) I made strawberry rhubarb crisp which is the best fruit-based dessert in the whole world and do not try to tell me differently.

I get very emotional about this, my favorite dessert of the year.

And, let it be known that my recipe is sort of a patchwork quilt from multiple Joy of Cooking recipes and my own pea brain. Just so you know that this recipe is not all my doing, but the way I put it together, it's *sort* of mine. In the sense that I lay claim to the whole thing when it's done baking and only let Bubba look at it out of the corner of his eye.


Just kidding, I share. A little. But, in this rare instance, when he offers me the last bite from the dish (because you know only the first scoops are served on an actual plate and the rest are eaten from the Pyrex), I totally take it.

It's MINE.

With other desserts, I usually let him have it out with the remains in the pie dish and don't intrude because I like my limbs attached and don't want to risk a fork wound to the face just for the last bite of whatever cake/pie/cobbler is in his meaty hands.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
Recipe adapted from Joy's strawberry rhubarb pie filling recipe and apple crisp topping

8 T cold butter, cut into small cubes
3/4 c all-purpose flour
2 T sugar
1 t salt

1 1/4 lbs rhubarb, chopped into 1" pieces
1 pint strawberries, topped, halved
1 c sugar
1/4 c flour

To make
Preheat the oven to 375

In a large bowl or 6 cup Pyrex if you want to be just like me, mix the filling ingredients together and then leave it out on the counter to macerate while you make the crisp.

And I don't call it a crisp topping because I hate the word topping when it comes to food. Sounds gross for some reason. Like the reason that I associate "topping" with Cool Whip and Cool Whip is gross. So, I just call it, "crisp", and I'm sorry if that confuses you but I'm sure you'll learn to deal.

Anyway. To make the CRISP - in a medium mixing bowl or the ample bowl of your 14 cup food processor, blend together everything for the CRISP except the butter and then cut in the butter until the mixture has the consistency of delicious gravel. Or peas. Or whatever the commonly accepted term is for how crisp topping (BARF) or pie crust should look before you throw it on top of your fruit filling and bake it.

Like this

Then pour your filling into a square glass dish, pour the CRISP over the top evenly and then tap it on the counter to make sure it all gets in there and such.

Then bake it for 45-50 minutes until the CRISP is golden and the filling is all abubblin' around the sides.

I considered taking a video of the bubbling but then I felt retarded so I stopped.

Once it's cooled below Nuclear Volcanic Death, scoop yourself out a slice and prepare your strategy for how you'll eat the rest of it before you YAY make another one because YAY AGAIN your neighbors brought enough homegrown rhubarb for two crisps and don't you know there will be more strawberries in next week's share.

And then the week after that and the week after that until...oh...OCTOBER.

Too bad rhubarb season is so short.

Enjoy. And feel free to fight for the last bite with a fork.

Fork Force!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

About those potato cooties, then.

I'm not really sure what happened with the potato plants that made them go from way bushy and thriving to less bushy and sucking, but there you have it.

                                                 Before                                                                            After

And since I've approached this whole potato growing thing with the lackluster methods of someone "experimenting" rather than "growing crucial sustenance", I'll admit to a certain amount of neglect.

Not that I haven't watered them, I have. I mean, the automatic sprinkler has, but the thing gets watered, so that's probably not the problem.

Here's my problem: brown leaves

But, I have begun thinking about the potato situation, as it were, and here are a few things that might have something to do with its recent decision to take its own life. Perhaps you can conjure up a rationale from these random clues:
  • When it reached the top of the fourth tire, I said, "Eh, fuck it. That's as many tires as it gets. I can't be piling tires to the sky, and plus, we don't have any more tires so it's just going to have to live." So, perhaps it's stunted?
  • The tires really retain a lot of heat, so maybe they're burning in there?
  • When I started to feel guilty for restricting their tire allowance, I filled up the top tire to the brim with soil to give them a leeeeeeeeetle bit more room to grow. Maybe I crushed something important with all that soil?
  • The soil I used was Topper leftover from Bubba's recent Master Lawn Growing experiment and I hear that has a lot of fertilizers in it so again, maybe it's burning the leaves?
Some other ideas from our cocktail hour brainstorm sessions:
  • Space aliens have conspired to kill the potatoes
  • Rocket did it
  • The potatoes are cursed
 Any ideas you have are welcomed and I'll let you know how they fare as we go. For the record, the things are about to bloom right now, so my current plan is to continue not bothering them (ie. neglect), let whatever branches want to bloom, bloom and then when the plants die back completely, which they now have a head start on doing yay, I'll knock over the tire tower and see what's going on. 

There are still parts of this plant that want to live.

Of course, there are other evils that can be determined once you have the potatoes out of the soil, but a lot of those are bug-related and none of the bug-related symptoms I've found on the internets look anything like what's happening to these plants. And I haven't seen any bugs in, on or around these plants.

Oh, and yesterday when I thought the cause of the leaf brownage could be fertilizer burn, I went out and soaked the plants in a half-assed attempt to "flush" the fertilizer from the soil. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't expecting a miraculous rebirth this morning when I went out to check on the plants because I was.

There was no miraculous rebirth.

OK - go on and diagnose my potato problem now...GO go GO...

But first, some good garden news that doesn't involve dying leaves or cootie-carrying aliens:

My tomatoes are getting big

The beans have reached the top of their tepee and are setting their first fruit from SURPRISE purple flowers

The lettuce is positively bushy and delicious

The tomatillos are tangoing effectively

Apples, nasturtium, limes and artichokes are at the top of their game

And both cuke plants are doing what cucumbers do best: Taking over everyfuckingwhere

The melons, well, I took photos of them just because I took photos of everything else, but let's just leave it at one word: SLOW.

I also sneaked in a Moon and Stars watermelon seedling that has remained unphotographed because I keep forgetting it when I'm all enraged over WHY ISN'T THIS MUTHER EFFING JELLY MELON GROWING YET?

We're up to four leaves, folks. FOUR FUCKING LEAVES. GAH!

Ok, I'm over my hissy now. Mostly because I'm super excited about the purple podded beans (which I assume will turn purple when they're ripe? Right now they're green and the rest of the plant is purple. Weird.) and the Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumbers because they're weird *and* growing, which is how I prefer all plants behave.

So, have you figured out my potato problem yet? NO? Come on, people. What am I paying you for? Oh, right.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Random shit + super farmshare killer menu [Recipes]

So, this should be a post about all the crap that's going down in the garden right now, because there's some crap out there to be sure. Some of it's good, some of it's bad, but it's out there and I should be telling you about it because that is my way.

I vent, you console - this is the way of the world on this blog.

But I haven't uploaded the photos I took last night just yet and this crap to which I refer requires photos.

I mean, what good would it be for me to be all, "My potato plants appear to have a cootie, so please tell me what it is by looking at this picture!" if I didn't have a picture? No good, that's what.

So, long story short - no garden stuff today.

Running-wise, there's not a lot to say other than I'm back to my regularly scheduled No Race On The Calendar But I'm Still Out There Putting In The Miles For Some Yet To Be Determined Event running routine and, after last week's Post-Race Break Week, I couldn't be happier to be getting up at 6am to run our fair streets if they were covered in pancakes.

Pancakes on plates and protected from street grime, of course. So that I could eat them instead of run. OK, so that example didn't really make sense, but what I'm trying to say is that last week's refrain from exercise in honor of my first completed duathlon and in an effort to fully recuperate was actually too long.

By Wednesday I felt like a loaf. By Sunday I was ON FIRE for my Monday Pilates class. By Monday night it was all I could do not to come home from work and go out for a run around the neighborhood just to wake up my lazy muscles busy atrophying with lack of use.

Tuesday morning's run wasn't so much a run as it was an ongoing confirmation of the fact that my quads were still fully functioning.

For the record, I do not need a full Post-Race Break Week after a duathlon of such short distance. After a half marathon? Yes. I need a week of recouping. I also need two days immediately following the race to awkwardly descend stairs numbering more than one so that Bubba can point and laugh at me like the insensitive child he really is. The fact that I make fun of him for doing that old man move of lowering himself into a seated position to put on his shoes notwithstanding.

I know, that's not nice. I do it anyway, but I know it's not nice. Don't worry, he tells me to fuck off every time.

We lead a very romantic life!

Beyond that though - not a lot going on in my running world. Two days a week of interval training, one day a week of a shortish long run (6+ miles), some faint thought about wrapping my next goal around an 8 minute mile pace, the potential for a jungle-y type run in July and noodling on whether I need new shoes yet.

Hey - Brooks People - you could make this post a lot more interesting if you'd send this tester some shoes to test out, already!

Just saying. It would help the readers. And I'm all about the readers, obvi.

And, hey!, speaking of you fuckers - I redid the blog layout. For you, of course.

Though, you probably have no idea because I'm pretty sure everyone reads blogs via readers at this point (Do you? Tell me! I want to know how many of you actually come over here. Because if you're all reading through readers then I'm going to run around naked. Not that those two activities are in any way related.)

Anyway, I'm trying out a new format that will release my words from the formerly narrow and restricted stripe down the middle of the page and allow them to roam free like the buffalo they are.


Yeah, I don't know. Perhaps I shouldn't be so worried about the freedom of my words as the words themselves. Perhaps.

So, if you do come to this blog rather than piping me through your reader (which is fine by me - it's how I read your blogs, too, in case you were curious. Also, I'm naked when I do it, so suck on that.), all the links and archives and tutorials and monthly sewing projects and my profile and my beloved followers and some ads and the link to my contribution to craftzine and Creative Commons license are all at the bottom of the page below the super crucial and perfectly constructed blog posts that now stretch far and wide across the page.

Also, my header is ENORMOUS because I feel it's important for my face to take up half of the above-the-fold space.

Once again, really putting that marketing degree to work. Because I'm marketing SCUBA masks? Dunno.

Anyway - if you do see the new layout and you were familiar, somehow, with the old layout, I guess you can tell me your opinions on the changes. Not that I'll necessarily do anything about them, but I'm always curious to hear what people prefer and, more importantly, what makes you come back and read this blog rather than retching into the keyboard and moving to the mountains to avoid me.

Hey - fun thing - I've found a new way to get rid of enjoy a lot of farmshare produce in one meal. So I'll tell you that now and then tomorrow I'll do my best to upload the garden photos so you can all diagnose the potato problem and then tell me how awesomely huge my tomatoes are.

SHIT! I've said too much...

[Imagine a plate with a few spring rolls, two really cute finger bowls and a little pile of slaw. Because I'm making this for dinner tonight and haven't taken a picture. Good job.]
Fresh Veg Spring Rolls with Dipping Sauces & Asian Coleslaw
Serves 2

Spring rolls
1 serving of rice vermicelli
3 small carrots, julienned
3 green onions, julienned
Bunch of cilantro, rinsed
Bunch of mint leaves, rinsed
8 Lettuce leaves, rinsed

Dipping sauce
2 T fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T sugar
1/2 t garlic chili sauce
3 T hoisin sauce
1 t finely chopped peanuts

1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, julienned
2 green onions, julienned
A few sprigs of cilantro
1 lime, juiced
4 T soy sauce
2 T sesame oil
Salt/pepper to your taste

To make
Spring rolls
Prepare vermicelli according to package directions and don't forget to rinse with cold water and set aside to drain well.

Fill a large shallow bowl with warm water. Dip one wrapper into the hot water for a second to soften. Lay it flat, add a lettuce leaf and then fill with a few strips each of carrots and onion, some vermicelli, a spring of cilantro and a few mint leaves leaving about 2 inches of open space on either side of your veg pile. Fold uncovered sides inward, then tightly roll the wrapper. You don't have to tuck in the ends. That's a dirty, dirty rumor.

Do all this over and over until you run out of stuff. You'll have about 8 rolls. 

Dipping sauce
Mix everything except the peanuts and hoisin together in one bowl. Then mix the hoisin and peanuts in another bowl. DONE! 

And on a side-note, am I the only one that hates the phrase, "Dipping Sauce"? It reminds me of those putrid fast food commercials that show a giant nugget of faux chicken splashing into a small plastic receptacle of barfy looking sauce.

GAH! I just gagged.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Then throw in the cabbage, carrots, cilantro and onions. Toss it all together and set it aside. This actually tastes best when it's been allowed to sit around and get tossed every once in a while. Which does sound kinda nasty now that I'm reading that back to myself, but I'm leaving it because I like that kind of humor.

Serve the spring rolls alongside the coleslaw with the dipping sauces in separate bowls. Though I feel stupid telling you how to serve food because it's not like you're wild animals or Jessica Simpson. (Who, incidentally, I actually like, but I can't ignore her blatant stupidity what with the old Chicken of the Sea situation and all.)

Tomorrow we'll talk potato cooties. Begin looking forward to that.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Farmshare Project: Week 10

By some miracle, I actually remembered to decant all of last week's produce into the Display Basket (aka the big basket I use to hold all the lemons we strip from our friend's tree) and take a picture for your viewing pleasure.

I KNOW! Big times.

Wanna know what else was Big Times last week? The fact that we got the whole share because our neighbors, with whom we share the share (heh), were out of town and not available to eat their share of produce.

I think I just used, "share", every possible way it can be used. Fun.

Now, don't get all excited to see how we were possibly able to do away with a full family-sized share's worth of produce in a week because it's not as magnificent as you're imagining. I didn't come up with a magical recipe that kills two pounds of collards in a single meal or turns 7 pints of strawberries (!) into one dessert.

I did, however, do *something* with nearly everything and, in most cases, I remembered to take photos. So, unlike last week, you're not going to have to use all your imagining powers to figure out what these things look like.

PHEW, I know.

Wow. That's a lotta strawberries.

Last week's box had:
Collard greens
Fava beans
Green garlic
Summer squash
2 baskets Strawberries
5 baskets of strawberries (neighbor's Fruit Bounty option)
1/2 dozen eggs (neighbor's egg option)

And their fate was:
We ate them
Carrots: Juiced! + Broccoli noodle salad
Cauliflower: Added to Punjab choley to create a Punjab Choley Gobi (Gobi is the Punjab word for Cauliflower. Look at that - you just learned a thing.) dish
Cilantro: Chopped and added to Punjab Choley Gobi dish
Lettuce: Chopped cobb salad
Green garlic: Chopped and added to Punjab Choley Gobi
Onions: Chopped and added to Punjab Choley Gobi
2 baskets of Strawberries: Strawberry sorbet!
1 egg: Chopped Cobb Salad
Squash: Pasta Primavera
Rapini + Broccoli from previous weeks: Broccoli noodle salad

We left them at the scene of the crime

We gave them to other neighbors when they weren't looking
5 baskets of strawberries

We stored them
Fava beans

And because I feel like it's not fun to leave a post at that, without a recipe or fun story about how I'm going to brutally slay a dozen cyclists with improper bike handling and end up on the news, I shall now unveil the juicer which has heretofore remained quiet.

Firstly, thank you for all your reccos on juicers. You are all very wise in the ways of juice, and, from what I saw when I researched your different suggestions, you're also ambitious with the juicing!

I am not.

I just want to make carrot juice and then maybe some day some apple juice when our tree that looks like a stick produces more than 7 in a year. And also on the Maybe Some Day list - I'd like to juice the African Horned Cucumber Jelly Melons in the event that they do more than sit in my garden with their two leaves and don't grow.

The melons are being sort of lame is all.

ButBUT the carrots are not. And the juicer is not. Lame, that is.

And I found all that out last weekend when I had a reckoning with the produce piling up around our house.

See, firstly, I went to our neighbors' and picked their cherries. Then I returned home covered in sticky blechiness, pitted a shit ton of cherries and wrestled a few pie crusts together which momentarily broke my pastry cutter.

This all went back together fine when I found the screw that'd popped loose and landed in the dough. I'm just glad I found it before the pie was baked. CRUNCH. Not good.

All to bake Bubba his annual fresh cherry pie which he has since demolished.

Some of our cherries are in here, too. Like,  maybe 5.

Then, I went for the strawberries. Because you saw how many mother effing strawberries came in the share last week (see gratuitous strawberry footage above) and how the hell else can you eat so many strawberries if you don't have A Plan? You can't. You will die. Or your kitchen will smell really foul of rotted fruit and there will be flies.



Anyway, I made more sorbet. And this time I took photos so you wouldn't have to imagine what strawberry sorbet looks like even though I don't think it's much of a stretch. You're smart. I know you are.

Which is why you'll forgive me for posting stupid not-helpful pictures of sorbet while it's still in the ice cream maker.

And once that was done and I realized I'd left the juicer as the only clean appliance remaining in the big appliance cabinet (both food processors, the ice cream maker, the stand mixer and the blender had been used and dirtied in the pie and sorbet making process), I felt I needed to finally bow at the foot of the juicer.

Pay some respect to the machine that can reduce a 2 lb bag of carrots to a refreshing pint glass of juice.

So, that's what I did.

I scrubbed and trimmed all the carrots I've been storing up from the farmshare over the last however many weeks, assembled and flipped on the juicer and in HOLY CRAP 2 minutes, I had a lovely orange brew just ready to be chilled and sucked down.

Sound sexy? It's not. But it is good. And these organic carrots have the silkiest, sweetest, most not-disgusting-for-a-juice-that's-all-vegetables flavor that *SMACK* makes you want to smile and feel healthy.

Because you do. Both things.

Also, it makes a great orange mulch for the composter, which is a weird bonus. I was really just glad to be using the juicer and had started making up reasons for why it was so great so that I could justify all the space it consumes in the cabinet.

But I love it! And I love carrot juice.

The end.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

What we do with found bullshit.

Once upon a time, the previous owner of a house had a son who spent his formative years leaving toys in the backyard after they satisfied his youthful interest in military battle, the Jurassic era and chicken McNuggets.

Then, along came an enterprising house flipper (and his sidekick, The Retarded Plumber Who Doesn't Believe In Gaskets) who, after demolishing the backyard during renovation, dug a gigantic hole, raked every errant object in range of the Bobcat's scoop into it and promptly covered the hole with sod, gravel or bark mulch.

And then he sold the house to a naive couple who saw the backyard as, "A blank slate! Yay! We won't have to tear down a bunch of junk before putting in proper landscaping!"

I'll let you guess who that naive couple might be...

Good guess.

So, when the naive couple known as US went about creating this backyard of our dreams we quickly found that we lived atop a Toys R Us graveyard and every time we sunk a shovel into the ground we were likely to come back with either a dinosaur, GI Joe, pirate or a random appendage from a dinosaur, GI Joe or pirate.

At first, this was annoying. We felt like we were maybe living on a former junkyard or landfill and how come we paid so much money for a house on land made from lead-filled plastic. But then we became amused and eventually we became collectors.

Bubba would be working on one corner of the yard and yell out, "Hey! I've got a good one!" and then he'd throw a muddy army sniper at me as I was busy pulling down tomato plants or something. Sure, I'd be momentarily annoyed that there was a tiny plastic rifle in my eyeball, but then I'd admire his find and add it to the basket of found bullshit and then we'd muse at the whimsical renovation techniques of the builder.

Then we arrive at present day where we've turned over every single inch of dirt on our property beyond the house (even that which used to reside beneath a cracked concrete patio and the front porch) and have fleshed out our collection of found bullshit to well over 100 pieces.

Some highlights from our collection:
  • A complete and intact Igloo cooler and lid (no lunch inside, sadly)
  • A functioning water gun
  • Giant plastic crab
  • Most of a Hungry Hungry Hippo game
  • Half of the Bat Mobile
  • A plastic alligator jaw which we thought was an alligator jaw when it was on the roof of the garage but we couldn't really tell until we hauled our butts up there and LO it was an alligator jaw
  • A chicken McNugget toy from a 1980-something Happy Meal
  • A white ninja
Making up the bulk of the collection are plastic dinosaurs, army men from a variety of eras (Civil War, Vietnam, etc), some Indians, a few pirate accessories, a handful of Super Balls, a Lego dude and a lot of marbles.

Until a few months ago, this collection lived, in its found state of caked-on mud,  in a giant Nutella jar in the garage until such time as I accidentally shoved the shelf too hard and the jar fell to the ground and broke, sending our collection every which way.

It's possible some key pieces were lost during this disaster.

After that, what was left from the disaster was relocated to an old basket for future reminiscing. And every time we'd come across the basket in the garage one of us would say something like, "You know, we ought to do something with all that crap."

And then the other one would say, "Yeah, throw it out."

And then we'd laugh and go make cocktails and forget about it because the only ideas we could come up with aside from tossing it all was to build some sort of outdoor curio cabinet and that seemed stupid and ugly so we'd move on.

Until I had a flash of brilliance during an extended cocktail hour that synced up so well with a coinciding flash of brilliance on Bubba's part that we TEE DAH did something with all that crap that we actually really like.

I mean, it's not super classy or beautiful, but it is amusing, makes use of a lot of bound for the trash/recycler materials and adds another They Must Be Bonkers element to our backyard decor that we enjoy.

Enter, the Magnet Board of Found Bullshit.

You see, friends, we enjoy eclectic decor with a story and HELLO if this creation doesn't have a story (see above). Plus, it cost nothing to make and somehow sort of matches another piece of our outdoor decor which was getting close to the chopping block but now seems like part of an ugly but amusing set that we'll keep so that we can be entertained while we host outdoor dinner guests.

Also, this other piece of outdoor decor, which was originally purchased as a potted plant stand, has turned out to be a handy BBQ side table, so that's a good reason to keep it, too. It's useful.

The board though? Well, its usefulness has yet to be realized beyond pure entertainment, but I'm sure it will show its purpose soon enough.

I mean, maybe it'll help us keep score for hillbilly golf somehow or let us illustrate the dramatic story of how the US Army triumphed over the almighty chicken McNugget OR MAYBE we'll unearth a plastic Jesus and be able to reenact what our anti-evolution friends like to tell us really happened back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

The possibilities are endless.

For now, though, we're pretty proud of ourselves for making another piece of "art" for our backyard and for making use of some more crap that was bound for the trash.

Score one for us. And the dinosaurs. And found bullshit.

Monday, June 07, 2010


I'll be the first to tell you that the time you see up there is pretty meaningless since this was a duathlon and, from what I can gather, the distance and/or events included in a duathlon are consistently inconsistent from one to the next.

Here I thought they'd be all consistent like with running where almost all races fall neatly into the 5K, 10K, 1/2 marathon (13.1M) and marathon (26.2M) categories, but no. In fact, even the next duathlon hosted by this same group in the fall is a different distance. So, there's no comparing times from this year's Mermaid Duathlon Alameda to, say, this fall's Mermaid Duathlon Santa Cruz because LO their bike distance is different. Whoops.

And sometimes duathlons aren't even called duathlons. Sometimes they're called "Splash and Dash" because they're swimming and running instead of cycling and running and there's no cycling word that rhymes with "run" or "dash" I guess. Though, "Bike and Hike" could work, right? Anyway, I'm not here to invent new multisport events.

No, I'm here to tell you that, despite my predictions, I did not kill anyone as a result of my improper bike handling or use of clip-in pedals.

So proper.

I also didn't make a public shame of myself so if you're here only to see a news clip of me being forcibly hauled off the bike course for taking out an entire wave of racers single-handedly, you can leave now and know you're not missing any gory details. There was zero bloodshed (on my part) at this event. Sorry, sados!

Feigning chaos. There was none.

There were other fun things though! Like lots of different sized participant bibs and...um...race coordinators starting races without the use of starting guns or bullhorns...and...blue buckets!

Yes, I said blue buckets. Or, more specifically, Blue Bucket.

See Donk! That's for you!

See, my dear friend Kelli, who had a pivotal role in me actually deciding to sign up for this too-soon event, shared some multisport advice she'd received prior to her half ironman - get a bucket.

Like, a smallish one that can hold your bike shoes and a small towel and your helmet and gloves, if you're into that kind of thing. And then, when you get to the transition zone and you're all setting up your crap on your little towel, turn the bucket over and set it at the end of the towel so that you can sit on it to change your shoes when you are coming in from the run and going out on the bike and vice versa.

This was cool even though it looks like I'm taking a shit right there. I was not.


Now, I will admit I had my hesitations about showing up with all my shit in a bucket like some sort of toddler going out to make sand castles, but I thought through the process and determined that even if no one else had a bucket, at least one person would see me sitting on it while easily changing shoes without having to balance on one fatigued leg to do so, and would be thusly jealous and/or impressed with my multisport savvy.

And, aside from the one girl I saw carrying her shit in an old milk crate, there weren't any bucket sightings on my watch. So, it's possible that everyone thought I was Some Douchebag With a Bucket, but I felt really smart or at least smarter than I would have felt if I'd foregone the bucket and then taken out the bike rack while I tried to balance and put on shoes. Because you know I would have fallen and knocked over someone's $6000 Tri bike or something.

Anyway, it worked out, the bucket. Thanks Donk!

Also on the It Worked Out Even Though I Doubted It List: the clip-in pedals and bike shoes.

I think I smiled like a horse's ass the whole time because I was happy not to kill anyone.

So, you know that I was originally planning to do the bike portion of this race with my heavy platform pedals and running shoes. And you also know that Bubba got wind of that idea and was found five minutes later in the garage, changing out my platform pedals for the clip-ins. And that he shamed me into using them, "because why else did we buy them if you're not going to use them in a race. Come on."

And, really, had I ignored him and used my old heavy pedals and running shoes? I'd have been hating my life.

I'll just say it now, so that it's out there in Official Internet Land: the pedals and shoes made a difference. Not one I can substantiate with comparison times or anything, but definitely one I felt when I was able to crank on the pedals and get the benefit of continuous momentum only possible when you can push and pull the pedals because your feet are attached to them.

Pedals + Shoes = Score. Thanks, Bubb.

And while I didn't necessarily doubt the bib belt apparatus in theory, I did sort of doubt how much I *needed* one for this race. But then I realized it was only a few bucks and I was mid-shopping spree at REI, so why not just get one and try it out and I didn't regret it.

It was nice not to have to safety pin my bib to my top all straight or whatever and then, when I got on and off the bike, it was easy to turn from front to back and vice versa per the rules even though I was the only one following them.

For anyone wondering which socks I settled on - well, I went with a random pair of cushioned running socks that don't give me blisters if I keep the mileage in the single digits. They're not cute like the bee ones or all Company Man like the branded store ones, but they also don't give me blisters while they DO go up over my bony ankles and therefore got my vote for the race.

And let's just say that I didn't need any more distraction going into my already wild outfit of neon green top, spandex shorts, red headband, blue shoes and orange bike. Yikes.

So, what about the race itself? SO FUN.

Which is probably what I should have started this whole post with, but we all know how involved I get with color coordinating and obsessing over things like buckets and crashing, so sorry.

The first thing Bubba asked me when I crossed the finish line (after my congratulatory hug and kiss even though I was all sweaty and nast) was whether I'd do one again and my immediate answer was something like, "Hell yeah that was fun!", and I wasn't even lying.

As it turns out, for short attention span people like myself, multisport events are a marked improvement on single sport ones. Like, during each of my half marathons I've had moments where I was thinking, "Really? Are we still running? This is boring. I want to do something else." No matter that, "something else", was really mental code for "get a beer and sit down", but whatever.

At no point in this race did I think, "Gee, am I still running/biking? I'm bored." because as soon as I might think such a thing, it would be time to run back to transition or get off the rapist bike seat to run again or WHOOPSY we're all finished here.

Best ever!

And to be all This Is A Race Report, for those of you who like that kind of thing, here you go:

Run 1: 13:36, Pace: 9:04
This was a 1.5 mile run that started when the tiny race coordinator girl yelled, "Ready, Set, GO!" without the help of a bullhorn. Sort of anti-climatic and "We're really more interested in the triathlon" of them, but it was fun in a casual kind of way and I took off with my 100 other duathlete friends. 

My pace for this short leg was right at 9 minutes, though, had I known how much gas I'd have in reserve, I would have pushed it harder and locked down a pace in the 8s. Fast, fun and it was so foggy I could feel the drizzle. Nice.

Transition 1 (T1): 02:54
I told Bubba and anyone who'd listen that I was going to take it slow and easy in the transitions so that no one got hurt and TEE DAH, mission accomplished. Also, I felt vaguely superior as I swiftly scooted the bucket under my bum and easily swapped shoes, snapped on my helmet, ripped on my gloves and headed out of T1.

Go Bucket!
Bike: 46:44, Rate: 15.4 (I don't know what this means)
So, if I felt like a rookie loser before this event, the bike portion alone helped boost my ego a little since, as I was exiting T1 and mounting my bike, the woman behind me was folding up her pink raincoat and placing it ever so carefully into the handlebar basket of her fixed gear cruiser.

Extreme Athlete Alert.

Getting out onto the ocean view course helped a bit more, since it was flat and fast and had a fun turn that I could pedal into and get that fun WHOOSHing effect from as I passed the cops standing guard on the course. 

There wasn't much to report about the course itself, since it was only 12 miles of flat travel, but there were a few chunky parts that gave my jawbone a good rattle and I got to entertain myself by TEE DAH passing some people and working through the gears that are smooth as smooth thanks to the recent tune up. 

Thanks, funny German! I won't embarrass you!

When I was reading the race material and they were all, "When passing bikers, it is customary to call out 'Left' to alert other cyclists of your intentions." I thought, "Yeah, well, that's nice. I'm not going to be passing anyone." And then I totally did. Pass people, that is. Lots of them! And not all of them were riding purple cruisers so shuttup.

Transition 2 (T2): 02:35
This was where I was really happy to have the bucket because my legs were noodley from the bike. Even though I could have pushed harder and been noodley-er, I was still happy to sit on the bucket for a minute to change shoes and then stand around like a retard looking for Bubba to take my picture. 

I told you - I was taking it easy. 

Run 2: 24:54
I took off out of T2 right behind another gal, which didn't bother me until she decided she was going to slow down so we could chat.

Folks - I don't run and chat. I find it extremely annoying. To talk while running AND to hear other people talking while they're running. I've covered this before.

Anyway, this woman wanted to talk and I didn't want to run faster to ditch her because my legs were noodley like I said, so we talked for about a mile or so about her running the Paris marathon and some other stuff I can't remember and I'll admit, it wasn't horrible. I mean, I annoyed myself the whole time because it's hard to get out a full sentence when your legs are all noodley and you're still trying to keep your pace in the 9s, but I did find that this first mile of the last leg went far faster than the second mile and a half that I endured on my own after handing this gal off to another runner at the water stop.

And then I hit the finish line and Bubba took me out for brunch.

Race Booze.

OK, so that's not a very detailed race report, but it seems you're all more curious about what kind of post-race sodium boost I pair with a duathlon rather than a run, so I've decided we'll move on here to those more important things.

For the duathlon, I had my famous and usually-reserved-for-after-the-race Race Fries on Saturday, as my pre-race sodium boost (the race coordinator said to have salt! Really.) and then for my post-race sodium, I had pulled pork over grits and a huge Bloody Mary for brunch which I think really caps off the whole sodium situation.

I'm still bloated from this. And it was so worth it.

In sum, Running = Race Fries and Duathlon = Booze + Pork.

I feel like that makes total sense.