Monthly Archives: April 2012

Recipe ReDux: The first shoots of spring

It’s definitely spring in New England. Our dogwood tree is blooming…

… and we’ve planted the first seedlings in our vegetable garden.

This month’s Recipe ReDux theme challenged the group to create recipes using early spring produce including leeks, ramps, asparagus, scallions, pea shoots and rhubarb. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to contribute this month thanks to Breaky McFinger – preparing food and cleaning dishes is fairly difficult with half your hand in a splint and lingering soreness in a broken pinkie.

Thankfully, the rest of the group prepared a whole host of delicious recipes celebrating the “First Shoots of Spring” – nearly 40 recipes altogether! Click through from the gallery below and enjoy the fresh flavors that early spring has to offer:

Rhode Scholar: Week 15 – Starting the taper

Before I recap week 15 of marathon training, let’s take a second to talk about last Monday, when a first-time marathoner took on and finished Boston in the blazing heat.

Carlo – who co-owns Salon CU in Somerville, where I get my hair cut – came running by me in Natick Center, looking amazingly good for someone 10+ miles into a marathon during unseasonably ridiculous heat. I jumped in to run and talk with him and his running partner Nicole for a few minutes, and snapped a quick photo as they powered ahead for the next 16.2. It was so great to see him and to get the text several hours later when he’d crossed the finish line.

I didn’t do anything that impressive this week, by any means, but I did get Ol’ Breaky McFinger reset and splinted by the orthopedist. I managed to get away without surgery, but before that appointment I tried to pack in as many workouts as possible, assuming I’d be barred from running for a while if I ended up with surgery. So this week I did speed intervals, a tempo run and a hill workout, where I’d usually only have two of those three. I let myself have more rest days than usual, and didn’t do any cross-training.

Routes covered in the long run

This was technically the start of my taper, so my long run dropped back to 13 miles (since when is a half marathon a drop back?!). I spent a couple hours huffing along the routes of North suburban Boston, but was amazed to have plenty of run left in me when I pulled up to my house. That’s never been the case for me after a halfathon distance, and got me thinking that maybe, just maybe, I’ve trained myself to be able to actually finish those 26.2 miles in PVD.

Because if I don’t, Carlo won’t let me live it down ;)

Aberrant Week: It’s only April, but tomatoes abound

What’s round (generally), red, full of vitamins A and C, and suddenly interloping in seasons where you’d not normally find it? Look a little left of center…

…and we’ve got the answer: tomatoes.

After a long, not-really-that-hard winter in the northeast U.S., fresh hothouse tomatoes are showing up in large quantities at the grocery store. And while I know these are aberrations that don’t really belong here now, my fresh tomato cravings went through the roof as soon as I saw some decent-looking red globes.

Tomatoes have been hanging around the produce section all winter, it’s true, but those have been flown & trucked in from all over the planet, arriving pretty scraggly and worse for wear. Hothouses a little closer to us seem to have suddenly sprung into production, and the result are tomatoes that could nearly convince you it’s late summer.

Because the availability of these tomatoes is welcome but still weird, I’m also breaking with convention and recycling an ETW recipe: couscous stuffed tomatoes (photo above). Head over to this post from roughly a year ago to grab the instructions, and if you’ve still got some hothouse beauties to spare, check out these tomato-y recipes from around Teh Internets:

  • Roasted tomato soup from Battlemouth (here)
  • Zucchini, tomato and ricotta tarts from Delicious Dishings (here)
  • Tomato jam from Stillmans Farm (here)
  • Tomato spinach dinner strata from Eating Well (here)
  • Fresh corn and cherry tomatoes with bulgur from Food & Fiction (here)
  • Curried scallops with tomatoes from Serious Eats (here)


Rhode Scholar: Week 14 – Wherein running was the least hard part of a 20-miler

The OMG 20-miler started off innocuously enough. Team Flail (Andrew, Adam, John and me, minus Matt) met up at Adam’s apartment Saturday morning, mostly awake and resigned to our long-run fate. We headed out past the Museum of Science – where the T Rex statue is wearing a #65,000,000 bib in honor of tomorrow’s Big Race – and followed the south side of the Charles River well into Watertown.

Then, around mile 12 a root snagged my toe, I went down hard, and this happened.

Luckily, John is trained as an EMT and I have a reasonably high threshold for pain, so he popped it back in. We started back up, with Andrew carrying my water bottle for me, but I could only hold pace with them until about mile 14.5. I sent them ahead as I pulled up to walk, really mad that I didn’t have the stamina to keep going. But I made a deal with myself (this sounds like that 18 miler again, huh?) – even if I had to power walk those last miles, I was doing the full 20 on my own two feet, no matter what my stupid finger had to say about it.

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Stalking the Week: Waving the magical celery wand

Maybe it’s the wand-like shape of a celery stalk which suggests it is imbued with magical, “negative calorie” powers. Let’s just get this out of the way up front: it’s a myth that you burn more calories digesting celery than are actually in the celery itself. And nutritionally, it’s not really a big standout – there’s a reasonable amount of water and vitamin K in each stalk, but mostly it’s just a fiber delivery system.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy this relative of carrots and parsley for its other merits, like the crunchy texture and clean, distinctive flavor. Those firm green ribs stand up great to all sorts of dips and schmears, making celery a perennial favorite on the veggie-and-dip tray at parties. But there are several other ways to enjoy it, especially in crunchy salads with fruit or other veggies.

The recipe that got this all started for me was a vegan creamy celery soup in the recent issue of Vegetarian Times. But that recipe isn’t yet posted on their site, and I’m not a big fan of copyright infringement, so I can’t share it with you here. I did manage to find a very similar recipe from Pamela Goes Primal, however, linked in the recipe list at the end of this post.

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Rhode Scholar: Week 13 – Magic Mile says my marathon time will be…

Things went according to plan in week 13, where my schedule included speed intervals (6x 1.5 minutes), cross-training (step & weights), a hill workout (4x 3.5 minute sprints uphill), a rest day, 3 shake-out miles, and a 10-oops-forgot-my-route-so-it’s-almost-11 miler. I made one minor diversion from the plan, however, to try a Magic Mile during Friday’s 3 shake-out miles.

I read about Jeff Galloway’s Magic Mile on No Meat Athlete, in Matt’s post about ways to predict your pace and/or time in a marathon (or other distances). So after a brief warm-up, I ran a mile flat-out, middle-school style, trying not to barf in the process. I did this twice, running 7:13 and 7:36 minute miles to come up with two estimates:

For the time being, I’m going to split the difference between these two and say I will probably run a 9:30 min/mile pace and finish somewhere around 4 hours & 10 minutes. That sounds pretty doable (right? Right).

Something that sounds a little less doable at the moment is my recent hare-brained idea to run a race (any distance; probably 5ks and halfathons mostly) in each of the 50 U.S. states. I ran my first 5k on Thanksgiving in 2010 (Massachusetts), and since then have run a handful of 5ks (all Massachusetts) and two halfathons (both Rhode Island).

After finishing the North Reading Turkey Trot 2010

The marathon will also be in Rhode Island, so that leaves me 48 states to go (yes, I’m aiming for Alaska and Hawaii). This project should be a cool opportunity to drag my exasperated family plan family trips all over the country, and a way to keep running dynamic, interesting, etc.

But before I can think about a 10K in Tennesee or whathaveyou, I’ve got to conquer 20 miles in Massachusetts – the long run coming up at the end of week 14. Yeesh.

Recycling Week: Guest post, fund-raising, & extra Recipe ReDux

The weeks are a little off-schedule around here, so I won’t have a new recipe roundup until the middle of next week (hint: look up foods of the month for April & you’ll find the lean, green, crunch machine I’m going to focus on).

But since I’m sure you’d have nothing else to read without an ETW post of some sort, here are a few recycled items for your perusing pleasure.

Guest post on Lose It’s blog: The folks who make the LoseIt app kindly featured my post about calorie-conscious meals on their blog recently. Click over to read some of the recipes and tips I recommend, and add me to your LoseIt friends list if you start logging with the app!

Team Flail’s fundraising for the Greater Boston Food Bank: My Flailmates & I are running the Cox Rhode Races marathon to help raise money for the Greater Boston Food Bank. We’re only $16 away from $2,000, and with that $2,000 the GBFB can distribute a whopping 5,000 meals. So if you’ll pitch in a few bucks here, I’ll run 26.2 miles and the food bank will help a lot of needy folks. Deal?

Extra Recipe ReDux – Cabot Cheese recipe contest: Did you catch the extra March Recipe ReDux post? The group had an opportunity to enter a Cabot Cheese recipe contest, so in addition to my tart cherry & vegetable bread pudding, there are links to a whole bunch of cheese-y, health-conscious recipes from the foodies RDs of Recipe ReDux.

Back to the usual next week, pinky-swear.

Rhode Scholar: Week 12 – Willing legs, cranky lungs

Week 12 of marathon training was both lazy and long-running. I’d originally chalked up my sluggishness during 8 with Portia last weekend to forgetting my pre-run caffeine. But within a day, the real reason reared its ugly, snotty head: a nasty head cold.

Now, I hate missing workouts due to illness or injury. But I hate missing long runs the most, and with 18 miles planned for the Friday, I figured I should take it easy and see if I could mend enough to run that. So I took a couple rest days, did some yoga and two easy runs but no cross-training, and felt… ok-ish on Friday morning.

The first 13 went pretty well – I took a route back & forth through the Parker State Forest, around several lakes and over some fun wooded trails.

Then I started flagging – even though my legs felt (relatively) ok, I kept getting winded. That’s not typically a problem for me; my hamstrings always threaten a boycott, and often my feet start screaming, but I can still huff along without a hitch. After a water break around mile 15, I struck a deal with my on-strike lungs – I’d alternate walking 1-2 minutes with running 5-6 minutes. It was pretty demoralizing (“Yikes, maybe I can’t push myself through the final, toughest miles of a marathon“), but it got me home and into a cold-water bath, hopeful than the 20 miler in a couple weeks will go better at the end.

Thankfully, I was feeling well enough during a whirlwind Chicago visit with my best friends to head out for a quick easy run with a new running partner.

Nina did a great job keeping up – she even broke into a sprint a couple times that were a challenge for me to match. Since my own stubby legged dogs aren’t really running partner material, it’s a treat to have a canine companion once in a while.

Next up: week 13, which is another pullback before The Big Training Run in week 14.