Months of the Week: Favorite May posts

May I bend your ear to share some of my favorite ETW posts from Mays gone past? Because we’re up to day (month?) 5 in my 12-day series highlighting ETW’s best from each calendar month.

2013

Life got in the way of blogging during May last year, as I was furiously PAINTING ALL THE THINGS to get our house ready to go on the market. But I did manage to share what I learned about how stupidly easy it is to regrow edible plants from food scraps. Who knew?

2012

But I guess new discoveries in the month of May are a trend, because I had an “aha” moment in 2012 when I learned you can stir-fry lettuce leaves and even grill whole (halved) heads when writing up Lettuce Week a couple years ago. We also went underwater in our pursuit of green leaves for a Recipe ReDux focused on using sea vegetables; I threw together some tomato, clam & seaweed soup.

May 2012 was heeyuge for me, running-wise – I finished my first marathon along with (significantly slower than) Team Flail.

2011

Things got a little adulterous in May of 2011 when I tried to stay true to my avocado vows, but got seduced by the discovery that you can turn those green beauties into chocolate mousse.

Fidelity just wasn’t my thing that May, because I strayed again from food-and-nutrition posts with a running-related writeup about my first half marathon.

Months of the Week: Favorite posts from April

No foolin’, it’s April’s turn in my 12-day series recapping the best of each month’s posts on ETW.

2013

One of the best results from this recap series is that it’s putting some neglected recipes back on my mental front burner, like the orange chocolate chia bars I made for Recipe ReDux or the chia breakfast pudding I whipped up for Low Wheat Week.

However, April last year was a tough one for the running community and for the city in whose orbit I’ve lived for the past 15 years. That seems like the only running post worth mentioning from that month.

2012

April 2012 was a slower month, food-wise. I missed the “spring shoots” RecipeReDux (but still posted the group’s links), and recycled a recipe when I featured hothouse tomatoes in a post.

The slowdown may have had a little bit to do with this.

That would be the most spectacular running injury I’ve sustained thus far, thanks to some tree roots during a 20-miler in training for my first marathon.

2011

Another case of Current Me re-relearning from Past Me – I’ve fallen off the meal-freezing bandwagon in the last year or so, but this post from April several years ago reminds me how helpful that practice is.

In April that year, I also had one of my favorite Missing Week posts, nudging everyone toward higher potassium consumption with recipes like my pasta with spinach, tomatoes & clams.

Months of the Week: Favorite posts from March

In like a lion, out like a lamb – March is the focus of today’s post as part of my 12-day series recapping the best of each month’s posts on ETW.

2013

I’m not sure why a New Englander was so focused on a tropical fruit during March (which is not even close to feeling like spring), but last year I seemed to have a banana fixation. Witness: Broiler Week where I made a warm-and-cool treat out of broiled mango & frozen banana, and a post dedicated to recipes using overripe bananas.

Also in March last year, I started training for the Covered Bridges Half Marathon (which I eventually ran – albeit slowly – to tick Vermont off my Race In 50 States list).

2012

Wow, what lit a fire under my butt in March two years ago? It was pretty prolific, with posts including Cauliflower Week, a post where Miles picked out new recipes to try, and the Recipe ReDux Cabot Cheese contest which my tart cherry bread pudding eventually won!

I was also running my mouth about running that March. While training for the Cox Rhode Races marathon, I covered a chunk of the Boston Marathon route with Portia; and I had several co-Flails that month, although not all of those elicited endorphin-fueled mood boosts.

2011

March 2011 reads a lot like a blogger still trying to get her feet under her. But there were a couple posts I still find interesting, like the first time I tested recipes from Cooking Light’s Superfast collection, and Leaf Week featuring the bok choy & shrimp soup recipe I kind of wish I could still eat (what with the vegetarian thing, and all).

Months of the Week: Favorite February posts

Time for month #2 in my 12-day series recapping the best of each month’s posts on ETW! Despite February being the shortest month of any year, I managed to crank out a good deal of foodie bloggery over the last few years:

2013

Thanks to this post, I just remembered that February is national heart health month. Open that up & learn all about how chocolate, nuts, berries, and more can keep your ticker & pipes chugging along full steam.

February 2013 is also when I ran, then hobbled, then ran the Austin Marathon, my second go-round with the 26.2.

2012

There are Important Sportsballs Events in February, I guess, which must be why I was posting about salsa recipes. Of course, I see no reason why you can’t enjoy those at times other than curling season.

Two years ago in February, I was also blathering on about training for my first marathon, which included some co-running with Team Flail. Nothing particularly insightful in that post, but I still crack up when I see this picture.

2011

Two of my favorite posts come from February 2011: Souper Week, which featured the rainbow veggie pasta soup I love & Tim does not; and my first Missing Week post, focusing two-fer recipes combining fruits and vegetables, aiming at bumping up Americans’ pretty pitiful daily servings of those food groups.

While I’d love to be optimistic and say our collective eating habits have improved in the two years since that Missing Week post, the realist in me says you should probably still go read it & get some ideas.

Months of the Week: Favorite January posts

Today I’m going to kickoff a 12-day series where I’ll feature past ETW posts from each of the 12 months. Let’s get started at the New Year with the best from Januaries past!

2014

It was the best of times, it was… barely 28 days ago. So maybe my Nooks & Crannies Waffle week is still top of mind; we certainly still have those chocolate chip PB banana waffles in heavy rotation at our house.

Waffles

2013

For the January Recipe ReDux challenge last year, I came up with what is still one of my favorite slow-cooker recipes: BBQ tempeh chili.

Last January was also when I penned one of my favorite running posts, the alternative winter running gear guide. If you want to see some super flattering pictures of me in tattered green pants, head right over.

2012

The Recipe ReDux spurred another of my favorite posts from Januaries past, wherein I put avocado sauce, salsa, eggs and corn bread to good use in an Eggs BeneMex recipe.

Hard to believe it, but two years ago in January I was just starting training for my first marathon and appropriately freaking out about it in this post.

2011

And now we’re back to where it all began, because my very first ETW post – about brunch, and blogging, and chocolate chip banana scones – was in January three years ago.

Eating Fewer Weeks: Why the ETW cupboard has been bare recently

You may have noticed a lack of activity here on the ol’ blog recently (after a previously unannounced hiatus late in 2013).

Source: Wikipedia, used under their Creative Commons license.

While I don’t expect that there are hordes of people anxiously refreshing the screen every day, hoping for a glimmer of action on ETW, I figured a few of you may wonder WTH was going on.

So, the long story semi-short:

I left the masters in nutrition program. I originally started ETW in conjunction with a return to grad school & a planned career change. But last year, I had come to several realizations about that path: being a student is expensive, & my 15-year career in market intelligence kept things afloat much more easily; too many nutrition careers are closely tied to IndustriAgriFood Business, which is not how I want to use my time; and I already had the academic background (an MPH) to jump into the area of nutrition that interests me most, public health nutrition. So when I jumped ship from school, I found myself with less fodder for ongoing ETW posts.

There are only 24 hours in the day. The return to work in my established career has meant more wonkery, less bloggery. And when I do get a spare hour, I’d rather watch House of Cards with Tim than spend another hour staring at Teh Internets.

I am seriously bored with home cooking. And when you blog about health & nutrition with a focus on home cooking methods, that’s kind of a problem. It’s like pulling teeth to get me to plan meals & write up a grocery list. I’ll avoid grocery shopping until I find myself calling peanut butter on crackers a “snack plate dinner.” And there are way more delivery pizzas & Chipotle pick-ups coming into Chez ETW than I would like to admit.

So I’m trying to decide where to go with ETW. I might change the focus, or not. Maybe give it up altogether in favor of other social media outlets (I mean, isn’t blogging kind of dead now, anyway?).

But in the meantime–to refresh my memory about what has worked & what hasn’t, while giving you all something to read–I’m going to post a 12-day series recapping the best ETW posts from each calendar month (e.g., all the Januaries since I started several years ago). Then I’ll see if that clears out the tumbleweeds well enough to chart a path forward.

Running: Flying Pig training weeks 1 & 2

Even before I ran my first marathon, I was planning for that to be my only one. “Just want to see if I can do it once; I don’t need to prove anything after that.”

That lasted all of ~6 months, at which point I lost my mind and decided to run a second. “No, really, THIS time I’m done with them.”

Welp, here I am with weeks 1 & 2 of training for Flying Pig marathon (Cincinnati, May 4) in the bag, making a strong case that I cannot be trusted to stay away from the 26.2.

ETW FP wk1&2

Those two weeks were fairly unremarkable – I ran up & down some hills, sped through some intervals, did a couple 10-mile LRs. I’m using a 16-week training plan from Run Your BQ that is very similar to the one Jason Fitzgerald wrote me for ATX 2013, only I’m going slightly higher mileage this time (peaking just over 50 miles/week, where last time peaked in the mid-40s).

Possibly worth a remark was the weather, which has been doing its level best to turn everyone into meat popsicles.

Greg Laden/ECMWF

I’m already d.o.n.e. with staring at the temperature waiting for it to hit at least 10F (my go/no-go line for running outside), slipping my way through poorly-cleared sidewalks and roads, and battling with my stupid frozen water bottle during frigid LRs. The fact that my Team Flail-mates, Adam & Andrew, are facing the same makes it a little better, I guess.

Adam twitter

On the bright side, I’ll have a couple warmer-weather breaks to help keep me sane, when I cross a few more states of my Race in 50 States list. In training week 6, I’ll run the Race for Preservation 10k in Savannah; and in training week 14 (the last before the taper), I’m planning to run the Mustang 50th HM in Vegas.

Until then, though, my trusty winter running gear will be in heavy rotation.

Recipe ReDux: Pizza party – thin-crust apple, spinach & blue cheese pizza

It happens to all of us from time to time – between work, school, kids, pets, hobbies, and the occasional weather snafu, you find yourself long on hunger and short on time. Time to call out for pizza?

pizza1

Put down that phone, says this month’s Recipe ReDux! We’re having a pizza party featuring healthy, easy stuff-on-a-crust recipes so you can throw together a satisfying meal and give the delivery guy a night off.

I make pizza at home pretty regularly, but usually with a puffy crust that requires 1-2 hours of rising time before cooking. Recently – per Mr. Eating the Week’s request for wafer-thin crust – I realized that thin-crust pizza doesn’t require the rising step, thus cutting prep time down dramatically.

So it took less than 30 minutes from start to finish for me to throw together tangy, tart, fruit-and-vegetable-y thin-crust pizza like this:

pizza2

Follow my recipe below to make up this gourmet-looking apple, blue cheese and spinach pizza for your own pizza party (and don’t forget to collect your tip!).

Thin-crust apple, blue cheese & spinach pizza

The pizza dough is largely based on Cheri’s pizza dough recipe; I’ve modified the ratio of flours, mixing method, and rising time. In my method below, you’re going to make a batch of dry mix, divide it and only use half to combine with the water and yeast, making 1 pizza dough to bake and 1 dry mix to save.

(4 servings [1/4 of pizza each])

Dough:
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
¾ cup very warm water

Toppings:
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
1 Tbs honey
2 Tbs stoneground mustard
2-3 cups spinach
½ Tbs olive oil
1 apple, thinly sliced
½ cup shredded or crumbled blue cheese

Pre-heat the oven to 470 degrees (you may find it works better when even hotter, up to 500 degrees).

Pour the warmest water you can get from your tap into a measuring cup, and add the sugar and yeast.

Combine the flours and salt in a large mixing bowl. Divide the dry mix into two equal parts, and set one aside for later use.

When small bubbles have appeared on the surface of the yeast/sugar/water, pour it into the remaining dry mix. Knead by hand until combined; the dough will be slightly shaggy and sticky. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface, and use a floured rolling pin to stretch it very thin.

dough

Transfer the dough onto an oiled baking sheet or a silicone baking mat on a baking sheet. Whisk together the vinegar, honey and mustard, then spread the sauce onto the pizza dough.

Massage the olive oil briefly into the spinach. Top the pizza with half of the apple slices, then all the spinach, then the remaining apple slices. Finish topping with the blue cheese.

Bake in the oven for 11-12 minutes. Slice into small squares, and serve approx. ¼ of the pizza to each recipient.

Did you invite a big crowd to the pizza party? Then check out the full list of pizza ideas from my fellow ReDuxers:

Running: The unfortunate truth about getting started

Sitting here, just a couple days before the start of training for the Flying Pig marathon (Cincinnati, May 4), I’m thinking about how to start running. Everyone else has already covered the run/walk ratios, how to get properly shoe-d, etc., but I think it’s time we air the dirty little secret most “Yay, you’re going to be a new runner!” advice doesn’t cover:

The first 4-6 weeks are terrible.

Running sucks

Running sucks

On nearly every one of your first runs, you’re going to feel like your lungs are trying to claw their way out through your throat.

For weeks, you’ll be chasing the elusive runner’s high with legs that seem to have been filled with angry scorpions.

You’re going to get passed by fleet-footed, compression-tights-clad twerps while you’re doing your best impression of a fish flung onto dry land.

Why? It’s partly because you need to build muscular endurance, but the I’M GOING TO MEET MY MAKER IN THESE STUPID RAGGEDY SWEATPANTS feeling also stems from the need to build cardiorespiratory endurance. And for most of us getting started with running, it takes a good 4-6 weeks to get strong enough in both those areas to feel like, hey, running’s not that bad after all.

But if you haven’t been told this, and you have been pushing yourself through 3 weeks of running but still feel like the end is nigh every time, you better believe that can be discouraging.

So, reality: the majority of us are not going to like the first 4-6 weeks’ worth of running. But if you’re prepared for that, and can accept the inevitable, you’re going to come out on the other side with a solid base for – get this – actually enjoying running. Your lungs will stay where they’re meant to, the scorpions will vacate your quads, and you’ll have enough energy to wave & smile and Tights McFastRunner next time.

Running is terrible, but running gets great. I promise.

Winter Sun Week: Seasonal citrus recipes

We’re in that part of winter where just a few colors dominate everything.

winter weeds

Aesthetically, I can appreciate the stark blue, white and beige of mid-winter. It’s bracing to see how even that big ball of fire we call the sun takes on a bright, icy white sheen this time of year.

But on my plate, I’m craving a hit of edible color that hints at the warm-up we’ll get if we can just hunker down for a couple more months. (Several days of running in barely-double-digit weather, slipping on black ice, tends to do that to a person). Nature, it seems, understands that need and has provided a few little seasonal gems to tide us over, in the form of winter citrus.

Orange beet salad

Tart, cheery, orange- and pink-hues citrus fruits are, surprisingly, all in season, no matter what the damn Polar Vortex has to say about it. Clementines, nubby-topped Satsuma oranges, grapefruits, kumquats and lemons abound, ready for use in sweets, sauces, and crisp salads like the beet & orange salad above, or the fennel, grapefruit & parmesan salad below.

Fennel grapefruit salad

I’ve rounded up a week’s worth of cheery, tart, vitamin-C-packed recipes that use the best of winter’s seasonal citrus. Lay down the mittens and pick up a fork; we can all make it until March, I promise.

  • Winter salad with beets & citrus reduction from Cooking Light (here)
  • Fennel, grapefruit, buttermilk salad from Food & Fiction (here)
  • Citrus salad with ginger yogurt from Epicurious (here)
  • Scallops with Satsuma, parsley & shallot salsa from Cooking Light (here)
  • Sauteed crab with avocado, grapefruit & herb salad from Saveur (here)
  • Rosemary citrus roasted winter vegetables from The Red & Black (here)
  • Orange polentina from Eating Well (here)