Friday, September 30, 2011

Csa box #1

Guess what I got today?
Having a boss who is too busy to eat from the CSA boxes she orders is really starting to pay off :)

The contents:
My plans for it:
This salad (again)
Couscous with fresh corn and grape tomatoes (again... maybe I should branch out)
These grilled zucchini tacos with homemade salsa verde

Still searching for...
a good chocolate-pumpkin bread recipe
maybe a vodka sauce (to store) to use my tomatoes
something to do with my green beans (I'm not a huge fan, but garlic sauteed beans would be nice)
something to do with the rest of my carrots

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Smells of Summer: Peach and Blackberry Galette

The other day, on one of my long runs, I was thinking about my favorite outdoorsy smells. Sun-baked pine needles reminds me of camping at Yosemite. The scent of eucalyptus trees reminds me of a certain road trip to Bodega Bay. But, without fail, the scent of a California summer is hot asphalt. It's not glamorous, no, but it cooks the prematurely fallen leaves to the perfect crunch. Deeply inhaled, it's the scent of the road. Of racing. Of hot summers in the city, always blown away by cool breezes at night.

Growing up, I used to go into the Body Shop and try all their perfume samples. My favorite? Fuzzy peach. Because I swear you could smell the fuzz in the bottle. It amazed me that they somehow captured that dusty musk over the syrupy sweet peach notes. Ten years later, peaches still have me in lust. The drive-four-hours-to-pick-some-with-friends kind of bliss. And behold:

We don't have peaches on my side of the mountains, though. Until two weeks ago, I'd never picked any before in my life. But you know what we do have? Berries. Oh, do we have berries. Every summer there would be a berry excursion. We'd pick blueberries in the slough by my house, forage blackberries along the road by the park, or drive an hour away to a U-pick farm to pick as many raspberries as possible and spend the entire next day making jams to store. Blueberry and apple pie, blackberry and raspberry jams, berry crumbles, berries and cream... the desserts of my childhood summers.

On my long run at home, the trails smelled of cooked berries-- those that had fallen to the asphalt, the sugary juices growing more sweet in the heat of the sun.

What better way to celebrate the end of a great season than filling the house with the scent of this sweet galette and a ready-for-fall kind of comfort.

I've made this four times in the past week, eaten an entire galette in the past two days, and will be making it again for a housewarming party this weekend. I've gotten phone calls and emails about it. It is AMAZING.

Peach and Blackberry Galette (from the recipe listed here):

For the pate brisée:
1 1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt (it tasted a little too salty, so I used 1 tsp.)
1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
7 Tbsp. ice water

1. Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
2. Work the chunks of butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender (or your fingertips). It may still be a little chunky.
3. Add the cold water to the dry ingredients. If using a food processor, pulse until just blended. If doing by hand, do a tablespoon at a time until dough barely holds together.
4. Shape the dough into a ball, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour to overnight.

For the filling:
3 c. fruit (though this is very approximate. I ended up using 2 large peaches and a half cup of blackberries)
the juice of one small lemon (or half a large lemon)
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 egg
1 Tbsp. milk
extra sugar for dusting

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cover baking sheet (preferably rimmed) with parchment paper.
2. Let chilled dough sit out for approx. 15 minutes, or until soft.
3. Roll into 14" round on lightly floured parchment paper. Refrigerate while preparing next step.
4. Combine fruit, lemon juice, cornstarch, and sugar in a bowl. I wanted my peaches to stay yellow, so I arranged the sliced in a circle in the center of the dough (leaving an inch border) and only combined the blackberries with the rest of the ingredients. Pour the blackberries into the center of the galette; the juices will diffuse and cover the bottom.
5. Whisk together egg and milk and brush over crust. (You will not use all of this! I only used about a third. Make an omelet or something with the rest.)
6. Sprinkle entire galette with granulated or sanding sugar-- how much will depend on the sweetness of your fruit (I used a few tablespoons.)
7. Bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes.
8. Transfer to wire rack and let cool.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A year of running

A year ago today, I went for my very first run. In typical fashion, I started my senior year of college with about twenty to-do lists of things I had hoped I would accomplish. Elaborately scheduled days in which I would wake up at 6:30am, work two jobs, have 4 hours of class, cook for myself, and get amazing grades, do extracurricular reading, meet my friends out at the bar, and be asleep by 1am.

I ran for 17 minutes that day-- including some walk breaks. I was embarrassed by my form, so I only ran at night for the first two months. I would avoid the campus loop and wait to be away from streetlights or behind parked cars if I needed to walk. I was embarrassed that I was in college and not fat, but so incredibly out of shape. I plodded along, though, with the help of an Excel spreadsheet. My times were only calculated by counting how many songs I listened to on my playlist, and my distances only tracked by charting my loop on Nike +. It was laborious, but look at the difference.

Last fall:

This fall:

It actually doesn't look like that much of a difference, but it's been one year, and I'm doing a marathon. Is that crazy? Probably. I'm fighting injury and (now) illness. My paces aren't any faster, but I'm more fit and MUCH happier. I can eat whatever I want (within reason, of course-- or with less guilt, at least.) It's been a good year, all things considered. It's a bucket list item I actually stuck to. Here's to many more years of running!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Chai spiced apple cake (or, a story of the worst best friend ever)

Once upon a time, there was a girl who used to do great things for one of her closest friends, like send her big care packages for the crazy weekend that her friend decided to graduate from college and then run a marathon the next day. And then the summer happened (you know, the one where I decided to train for a marathon of my own, move, get a job, and go out of town every weekend) and I forgot her birthday (actually I was camping without cell service for it-- excuses excuses!) So I'm driving to visit her tomorrow, to finally spend a weekend in her hometown four hours away, and I decided to bake a cake. A sort of thanks-for-hosting-me, happy-belated-birthday, please-don't-move-to-Oxford-next-week-even-though-it's-because-you're-incredibly-amazing kind of cake.

So after another round of tea and dumplings (seriously, good thing those bad boys are gone), my mom and I decided to make this delicious looking chai spiced apple cake that I found via Gojee (the Pandora of recipe databases. All photos. Best. Procrastination. Tool. Ever.)

We have this beautiful Bundt pan at home, and I had high hopes for the glaze. You know, maybe some beautiful drizzling, maybe piped along the ridges of the cake. Maybe some artful Swiss dot detailing along the edges.

Until my mom took it out of the oven and the following conversation happened:

Mom: "So is it done? Do we leave it? Do we put it somewhere?"
Me: "I don't know. Doesn't say. Yeah, leave it."
Mom: "Okay, yeah. Let's leave it. We'll just leave it."

(five minutes later)

Mom: "Okay, well let's take it out. My mom used to make Bundts all the time. And she'd turn it over on a glass."
Me: "A glass? Like a glass plate?"
Mom (going to the cabinet, getting a glass, starting the process): "No, like a glass. I don't really know what it does."
Me: "Maybe it's high up enough that it slides down? Maybe keeps it from caving in?"

So guess what the didn't have in the 1960's that they have today?

Nonstick Bundt pans.

Dear Anna,
Happy belated birthday. Sorry it looks like we threw your cake on the floor before I drove it four hours to your house. It didn't come out of the oven until 10:30pm and besides that, we ran out of apples. I swear it's delicious-- fortunately I was able to taste some, and you'd never know because it's completely in shambles. It means nothing as to how much I value our friendship, I promise!
Love, Sarah

(Good thing some strategically placed icing and flowers hid the damage.)
Chai Spiced Apple Cake

2 sticks of buter, softened
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. buttermilk
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
2 cups peeled, diced apples

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a nonstick Bundt pan with cooking spray.
2. In a KitchenAid mixer, beat butter and sugar until creamed. Add eggs (one at a time) and vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
4. Add half the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar, add half the buttermilk, then add the remaining ingredients of each.
5. Fold in the apples and pour into Bundt pan.
6. Bake 50-60 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.
7. Invert onto rack (no glass needed!) and let cool.

Buttermilk Icing

2 c. icing sugar (powdered sugar)
4 Tbsp. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1. When cake has cooled, beat together all ingredients and drizzle over cake.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Good eats

What is it about home that is so comforting? As much as my city's changed in the five years since I've moved (and as much as I've resented and mocked that change), there's something about the gray skies and 65-degree weather that is comforting. Dependable. Like still being able to wake up as late as I want (that mattress is killer. I swear. It has a pillowy death grip on me for 10 hours. Every night.) and settle back into my standard spot at the kitchen island and have my mom cook me breakfast. Just like I'm fifteen again (but without the whole "I hate being a teenager" thing.)

This morning: whole wheat French toast with cottage cheese, half a sliced peach, and a little cinnamon and maple syrup. 
My post-lunch dessert: Jasmine green tea with black sesame dumplings from last night's dinner at Din Tai Fung. And guess who's going to be trying the recipe as soon as I get home and get my hands on black sesame seeds and glutinous rice flour? THIS GIRL.
...And then a trip to the Farmer's Market for a fresh pretzel. Completely unnecessary, but soooo carb-y. So salty. So good. And then on the way out, we saw this truck. And I did the whole "oh I've heard that place is good! I've read about it! Oh but it's 5:15pm, so ice cream is probably not a good idea... and I don't think I have any money." But I scrounged together $2.50 in change, and I got the most delicious honey lavender 100% cream ice cream that I've ever eaten. In a cone. That's right. The six-year-old girl behind me ended up ordering the same thing, which only made me more sure that that was exactly the right decision. Carpe diem, baby.

No workout today-- yesterday's 18ish hilly miles did a number on my quads, and a run is out of the question. Do ice baths actually help? This is the sorest I've ever been...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My first ice bath

Does anyone else actually want to throw up at the thought of food after long runs? No? Just me after 18 miles? Moving on...

Guess what got my mind off that pretty quickly?

I read some hints about doing the whole ice bath thing, which I never really understood, to be honest. I mean, I'm usually a little sore after a long run, but not so much so that it's immobilizing! I sprang for it today, and got ready in my bikini and North Face. What a combination.

I settled down with my go-to recovery for long runs: Joint Health emergen-C and Chobani. When I really can't stomach the thought of anything that takes effort to digest, I stick to high-protein yogurt. Mmmm.

I read that you're supposed to stay in an ice bath for 15-20 minutes. I set my phone alarm for 12 as my no-bail minimum (naturally), and if I wanted to stay longer, I would. I use this same technique for my runs, and I'm always surprised how well it works. Sure enough, I stayed in for about 17 minutes. My mug of hot tea and this song popping up on Pandora were the only things getting me through my first ice bath. My muscles didn't feel any different--until I tried to get out of the tub and felt like I legitimately needed a handicap lift-- but didn't think about this side effect:

Numb fingers (and toes), officially called Raynaud's, it's more annoying and embarrassing than anything else. Try holding a door open for the stranger behind you when half your hand looks like a corpse's. As far as the genetic lottery goes, though, I have to say I'm still pretty lucky. I guess shitty blood circulation is just kind of my pet trick.

Fortunately this whole ordeal was assuaged by seeing Contagion, shopping, and going out to Din Tai Fung for dumplings. I'd been craving pork buns for weeks. We ended up splurging on hot & sour pork soup, pork buns, garlic sautéed green beans, shrimp and rice cakes, spicy noodles in peanut sauce, and chicken dumplings, washed down with a Tsingtao. Dessert was the most delicious sesame dumplings with jasmine tea. Seriously, next time I'm going back just for dessert.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Flew home yesterday and got to wake up in my luxurious (read: not purchased on craigslist like the one in my apartment) pillow-top bed and have this for breakfast:
Don't be fooled by the Wall Street Journal-- I didn't even make it past the front page.

Half a peach, a handful of blueberries, two generous scoops of cottage cheese, a handful of raw almonds, a cup of coffee, and you've got one happy camper.

I did the only there is to do when I'm home: shop. I bought a running hat, Runner's World, and a coffee to fuel my evening run. Can you tell I'm in the middle of training?!?

I decided on the "uphill both ways" run, a 5-mile loop from my house (on a hill) with about four hills in between-- the Mother of all puts those San Francisco hills in the NWM to shame-- and was able to power through. No stopping, no walking, minimal knee/hip pain (unlike the last time I tried it when I was home, last December). PLUS I got to have Chobani as my post-run snack. I'm in heaven!

Watermelon, Tomato, and Feta salad

Quite possibly the best summer salad. Besides an obvious lack of carbs, it has the whole juicy-sweet-crunchy-minty-creamy-bitter thing really going for it. It was my lunch every day this week with a hard-boiled egg and then I made another round of it for dinner with friends on Saturday (with potato salad, steak, and caramelized onions. yum.) Since there's no carbs, it's really easy to digest-- and you've got the nut protein and hydration from the melon-- so the day I didn't eat lunch until I got home from work at 4:30, I was still able to go for my 5:15pm run just after eating it without feeling sick (score!)

Adapted from the recipe here:
(I made a half recipe-- yields enough for 5 lunches or side salad for 6 people with some leftovers)

Combine half a container of TJ's Feta, half a watermelon, half an onion, about a third of a container of mint, two heirloom tomatoes (I used yellow ones because they look better against the red watermelon), and 1/2 cup of raw walnuts.
Cube the melon and tomatoes, chop the mint, walnuts, and onion, and mix in the feta. Toss the salad, and enjoy... with a pitcher of orange spice black sun tea, perhaps?

Update on the CSA box clean out: 
Tostada night used up three tomatoes, two zucchini, half an onion, and three ears of corn. A Greek salad put two more tomatoes and a cucumber to use. Another batch of zucchini bread used up another two zucchini (tried this one but it wasn't sweet enough, then tried this one and tasted the olive oil a little too much. Still on the hunt for the perfect recipe.) I blanched and froze the last five zucchini and left for vacation leaving only one kohlrabi root and three cucumbers to my housemates. Not too bad!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

One year.

It's been over a year since I set up this blog, wrote one post, and promptly forgot about it, as I thought I would.

But I'm back.

The past year has been busy-- two jobs and two majors, and then over the past summer, I somehow decided that it would be a good idea to start a full-time job, move to a new apartment, and train for a marathon all at the same time. Breathing room? Pshhhhh.

I don't remember many meals I've had in the past year, though there were plenty of rice pudding cravings, 10pm dinners of fried eggs on toast with salsa, and random cooking binges where I'd spend a whole Sunday in the kitchen and then stock the freezer full of random breads and soups that I'd pick at over the next few months. I went through a cherry and blueberry pie baking craze, along with tons of fruit salads. And then I moved, essentially a two-month-long ordeal, and kind of lost my footing in the process.

Last week, I inherited a CSA box full of things like green kohlrabi and twelve baby squashes and a billion tomatoes. The day before I went out of town for a wedding. And let me tell you, if you need something to jump start your creativity in the kitchen, 25 pounds of random produce about to go bad does just the trick. I made curried carrot soup, zucchini pizza, watermelon salad, kohlrabi greens with sesame oil, couscous with cherry tomatoes and fresh corn, and chocolate zucchini bread. It's been a week, and I'm not even close to being halfway through the damn box.

Right now, this blog is for myself-- a small log of things I'm doing, from cooking to running to small projects and weekend adventures. It takes a certain type to want to take photos in public and have their own photo online, and I'm not so sure that's me. It's intimidating having all that splashed on the internet, and I don't even know if I want people reading it. But I've always journaled, and I want it down somewhere. Et voila.

I've been at this new apartment for exactly a month now, and this weekend will be my first one actually at home before I go out of town again for 10 days. So. I'm finally settling into a new routine, new blog, new plan. Here we go.