Category Archives: Totally Random

Sugar, sugar

And sugar!  And caffeine!!  OMG!!!

Breakfast: granola bar.  Lunch: giant cup of fro-yo from Forty Carrots (a.k.a. the best yogurt on the planet).  Snack: Venti iced coffee.  Other snack: jelly beans.

Tatatatatatatatatata. That’s my fingers drumming on the counter all afternoon at work.

Even though I don’t really consider myself a health blogger, I have to admit, the day was looking pretty shameful when I headed home from work and started contemplating dinner.  I needed a real meal. Hmm….what to do with a boring-ass chicken breast?

Chicken salad! This was super simple to whip up and packed with protein (thanks to swapping the traditional mayo for Greek yogurt) and flavor.  (Recipe here!)  On a sandwich thin with some baked chips and a sliced apple, it hit the spot!

Now it’s time for some couch time.  The hubs is still away, and guess who thinks he is man of the house now?

Parker is completely shameless when it comes to demanding attention.

Today’s EAT: I think this Chicken Yogurt Salad will become a summertime staple around here!  So easy to whip up a big batch and then graze on it for a few days – on crackers, as a sandwich filler, or straight outta the bowl.

Nummy – and healthy!  What did I do before Greek yogurt?

Today’s DRINK:  What’s a night chillin’ solo with the kitties without come Chardonnay?

This Chateau Lafayette Reneau chard is a little too sweet, but not terrible.  I don’t know that I’d go out of my way to buy it again, though.

Today’s RUN:  I ran home from work tonight – through the park and around the lower loop, then down the Hudson greenway.  About 7 miles total, I think.  Not sure – I didn’t have a watch.  Other than the fact that is was rather damp outside with the humidity, it was a pleasant run!

Amazing how just yesterday I was cursing the entire sport of running and vowing to never do it again.  Race headcase: that’s me.

Today’s QUESTION: What’s your favorite sugary treat? I am on such a huge fro-yo kick lately, it ain’t even funny.  At least it’s somewhat healthy!

That’s how I roll

Things that are on my short list for “Favorite Food in the World”:

  1. McDonald’s french fries with lots of ketchup
  2. Cherry Garcia ice cream
  3. Pan fried Thai noodles (pad thai, pad see ew, etc)
  4. Pizza slices, New York style
  5. Cheese, particularly goat cheese

Hey, guess what!  I like junky food.  It really is a miracle I’m not obese.

However, there is one food that tops them all in my book, and it’s actually relatively healthy.  Behold, the Vietnamese summer roll in all of its glory:

Also called fresh spring rolls or goi cuon, it is basically a delicious little salad bound by a rice wrapper and dunked in rich peanut sauce.  I am somewhat obsessed with these and could literally eat them every day.  When I was traveling in Vietnam last summer, I was on a major mission to find the world’s perfect summer roll.  (Which I did, in Saigon – pictured above!)

I even took a cooking class in Hoi An and learned to make my own, wrapper and all!  Beautiful and delicious, no?

Oh wait, um, that’s not so beautiful….that’s a sweaty (but very happy!) amateur chef!  These are beautiful, and it’s really quite remarkable that I made them from scratch:

Being that they are my favorite food in the world and all, it’s not surprising that I woke up craving them after staying out way too late and drinking too much beer last night.  I promptly placed a SeamlessWeb order to Cafetasia to get my summer roll fix.

Far from authentic, but satisfied the craving nonetheless.  Traditional summer roll fillings include shrimp, rice noodles, shredded carrot, and herby greens.  These had no shrimp and tofu instead.  No matter – at the end of the day they are simply a vehicle for the delicious peanut sauce.

(Full disclosure, I also inhaled a carton of Pad Thai, see #3 above.  Hey, at least it wasn’t McDonald’s!)

Do you have an unusual favorite food? A lot of people find my summer roll obsession rather weird.  But I just roll with it (ha).

Today’s EAT: Dinner was simple.  Pesto chicken sausage with caramelized onions and whole wheat pasta:

And salad, of course.  Tomorrow is grocery day and it’s about time – the pickins are slim around here!

Today’s DRINK: Before we talk about today’s drink, we must talk about yesterday’s drink.  Or the several beers at the bar that resulted in the summer roll craving this morning.  (And by “morning” I mean 11:30 AM, when I finally rolled out of bed.)  Wine was the last thing on my mind tonight!

However, when the hubs mentioned opening a bottle to have with dinner, I relented.  We’re sipping this Rootstock Sauvignon Blanc this evening:

It is light and delicious and reminds me of summer, in spite of the fact that it’s like 30 degrees outside (brr).

Today’s RUN: I dragged my beer-laden butt through a rather unpleasant 5 miles (42:00) this afternoon.  I felt like garbage but it’s my own fault (see DRINK, above) so I suppose I can’t complain too much.

P.S. – I probably would have just succumbed to the circumstances and taken the day off, but for the brand new Training page I added this week – see tab at top!  Accountability.  It actually works – who knew?

The cookie crumbles

“I have some very bad news,” says the hubs tonight, brow furrowed.  He takes a deep breath.  “You know our Girl Scout cookie order?”

Gasp.  NO!

Apparently a mix-up in his office has led to us NOT getting our Thin Mints and Samoas this year.  And now…I fear it’s too late.  The Girl Scout Cookie Selling Season has passed.  There must be something we can do, though – right?

“Well,” says the hubs, “I contacted Girl Scouts of America of New York.  In theory, someone is calling me back.”  I can’t help but snort.  No, he didn’t. I study his face – he’s dead serious.  Yes, he did.

What about eBay? I suggest.

“eBay,” he muses.  “Interesting.”  I have to giggle.

He continues: “There are some people in my office selling their extras, but it’s, like, the lemon ones.  And the trefoils.”  He practically spits with disgust.  “I mean, who orders that?  I kind of want to find them just so I can punch them in the face.”

Ah, my hubster.  So passionate, and so resourceful.  I have a good feeling that we’ll get some hands on some Girl Scout cookies yet.

But certainly no trefoils.

Today’s EAT: Running club night means no cooking for me!  The hubs put together some fancy pizza – a plain Amy’s frozen cheese pizza dressed up with pesto chicken sausage and grilled onions.

It hit the spot!  I don’t know what we did before we discovered flavored chicken sausages…they dress up any pizza or pasta dish so well.

Today’s DRINK: Time to crack open a new  bottle from yesterday’s haul – Fife Chardonnay, 2008:

It’s not bad!  For the price (under $10) it’s perfectly decent and drinkable.  And after running on a muggy night like tonight, a chilled white wine tastes perfect.  (Hmm, perhaps I should have taken a glass into the shower with me!)

Today’s RUN: CPTC tempo run was 4 miles tonight – a relief, because I was really not feeling up to anything super long or super hard.  I ran the loop in 29:25, which I was happy about, especially since it’s faster than both of the 4-mile races I’ve done this year and felt a whole lot easier.   Hooray for improvements in pace!

I also did an hour of Vinyasa yoga at the gym this morning.

Fear of commitment

Every couple of years, I must undergo a serious evaluation of one of the most important relationships in my life.

We spend every day together.  Pretty much anywhere I go, we go as a unit.  My companion from the first moment I wake up until I shut the light off at night.

Of course, I am talking about my phone.

For several years now, I’ve been solidly on Team Blackberry.  All of those fancy touch phones?  Didn’t trust ’em.  Even as more and more of my friends started sporting those fancy-schmancy iPhones.  My BB was good enough for me.

But now I find myself at something of a crossroads.  I’m definitely not going the iRoute, as iDon’t feel like dealing with the hassle of switching from Verizon.  And also because I hear that they do everything except allow you to place and complete phone calls – at least here in NYC.

Clearly touch phones are the future though.  And I don’t want a dinosaur of a Blackberry while the rest of the world moves on.

Hence the fear of commitment.  Two years is a long time to spend with a phone!  This is not a decision to be taken lightly.

And so, for the last couple of months I’ve been on and off flirting with the Droid:

For some reason I just can’t quite get on board though.  It seems a little…large.  And heavy.  And just…not an iPhone.

I was at the Verizon store last week and I’ve gotta say the salesguy’s pitch was rather weak.  I expressed my Droid concerns (too big!  not as cool as an iPhone!) and he responded thusly:

“This can do so much more cool stuff than an iPhone.  Check it out.”  He loaded an app of some sort that lets you look at the night sky.  Google Maps for the night sky.

Um…okay?  And that’s useful to me how?  Come on dude, you can do better than that.

If you have a Droid…do you love it?  Hate it?  What am I missing here?

At the end of the day, I just want a phone that weighs next to nothing, takes up negative space in my purse, has a infinite battery life, can place calls and send emails, and can entertain me on the subway.

And that can make toast.

Hmm.  Maybe I need an iPhone after all.

Today’s EAT: Chicken dinner!  Except instead of skinless boneless chicken breasts, I made – gasp! – bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, based on this recipe for Roast Chicken Thighs with Shallots:

Delicious fatty skin.  Mmmm.  No, I did not eat the skin.  But cooking chicken with the skin on makes it so much juicier and adds a delicious little layer of fat on everything.  Finger-lickin’ good.

Double naughty: I cooked the sweet potatoes in the same pan, so they cooked in the chicken juices and fat too.  To die for.

Partial redemption: Served sinful chicken and potatoes alongside a very healthy salad with red wine vinegar.

Today’s DRINK: Exciting news – I finally stocked up on some wine!  I’m taking tonight off, but I can’t wait to crack one open tomorrow night after running.

Today’s RUN: Easy 5 miles, 40 minutes flat.  It’s unbelievable how amazing the weather has been for running the last couple of weeks.  Knock on wood.



Grocery WIN

I’m not much of a planner.  Outlook calendar?  No thanks.  Training plan?  Yawn.  Vacation itinerary?  Nah, I’d rather fly by the seat of my pants.

So, this whole process of being on a grocery budget and planning meals to cook has been quite a challenge for me the last few months.

I know that may sound ridiculous – after all, I am almost 30 years old – but as dumb as it is, I’ve always been a really bad grocery shopper.  I’d often go into Whole Foods with no list or preconceived idea of what to buy and come out with, like, a bunch of random fruit, a $14 block of cheese, and chocolate truffles.  And then proceed to order delivery for dinner because I had no real food to cook.  Oy.  Bad.

Well, the $14 cheese habit – and the delivery habit – had to end last year when the hubs and I went down to one income and moved to the most expensive city in the world.  Say hello to the food budget and the weekly meal plan, and goodbye to superfluous dairy.

I think I might be finally getting the hang of it though!  Because….I don’t have to buy groceries this week! My Trader Joe’s run from last week, with a little careful forethought, will last us at least through the weekend.  Hooray for not wasting food!

Impulsive grocery shopping is still fun, though, and I must admit I haven’t broken the habit entirely.  But I try to be a little smarter about it.  Strolling through the Greenmarket, for instance, and picking out one or two things that look particularly delectable – and, even better, are in season and locally produced.

(But…I still treat myself to a ridiculous little hunk of imported cheese once in a while.  Shhh….don’t tell the hubs.)

Today’s EAT: I’m about to share one of my favorite recipes in the entire world.  Ready?  This: Rack of Lamb with Caramelized Shallot and Thyme Crust.

Really, I could go on and on about how easy and delicious this recipe is, how is tastes and looks so fancy but is really quick to make, etc etc.  There’s only one problem with it.  Rack of lamb is damn expensive.

So tonight, I used the same recipe and “crusted” a tenderized chicken breast.

Served with mashed sweet potatoes and salad.  I thought it came out really well.  The hubs was less enthusiastic, moaning that it “just reminded him of the lamb.”  Aww, poor hubs.  Someday when we’re not on a strict budget, the rack of lamb will be a staple once again!

Today’s DRINK: There was a splash of EB Foote Merlot left in the bottle from last night, so I’m doing my part not to be wasteful and sipping it up.  That’s probably it for tonight….I am exhausted and headed for bed early.

Today’s RUN: I wanted to give the Will Power and Grace class I went to last week another go, and there’s a class offered at lunchtime on Mondays.  However…it was WAY too nice outside to NOT run today.  Dilemma.  I ended up doing both – headed to the class after clocking an easy 5 miles, 40:40.  This is probably why I am so tired!  It was almost two hours of exercise when it was all said and done.

It’s THAT DAY of the year

You know…that first day when winter seems to let up just a little bit and it almost feels like spring!

When restaurants put their patio tables out on the sidewalk and it actually seems like a reasonable idea.

When everyone and their mother is outside in tee-shirts, ignoring their goosebumps and enjoying the sun and remarking on how wonderful it feels out even though it’s still only 50 degrees.

When those giant piles of snow – a strange juxtaposition to the sun-drenched blue sky – accelerate their melting, shrinking slowly into streams of runoff.

I could go on and on.  This is one of my favorite days of the year!  I recall a few years ago on THAT DAY of the year, after a particularly harsh Cleveland winter, I actually bought myself an ice cream bar and sat outside, coatless, shivering in the sun while I ate it.

THAT DAY is always a bit of a tease, though.  Spring isn’t here yet.  Plenty of rain and sleet and probably even snow stand between today’s sunny respite and the permanent arrival of nice weather.

I’ll take whatever sunshine I can get though!  And on a Saturday, too!  It’s been a wonderful day so far.

Today’s EAT:  After a leisurely wakeup, I pulled out one of my favorite kitchen toys that I hadn’t played with in forever:

My waffle iron!   I just *happened* to have picked up some all-purpose whole-grain baking mix from TJ’s last week.  And some maple syrup.  Nope, I haven’t been craving waffles and waiting for the weekend!  Not at all!

The hubs and I enjoyed a tasty breakfast of waffles with strawberries (frozen) and candied pecans and a fried egg:

After breakfast settled (and after I went for a quick run), we set out to enjoy the afternoon sunshine with a walk around the Lower East Side and a stop at Prosperity Dumpling in Chinatown.  Hello, cheap lunch!   And absolutely delicious!!  At five dumplings for a dollar, Prosperity is even cheaper than Vanessa’s up the street.  We each had an order of dumplings and a sesame pancake with beef.  Bemoaning our tiny freezer, we left with only one bag of 50 frozen dumplings ($8) to take home.

Pretty sure dinner tonight is going to be leftovers, or frozen pizza, or something…maybe even dumplings again!

Today’s DRINK: As the hubs and I strolled around after our dumpling lunch, I reeeeeeeally wanted to stop and have a beer somewhere.  Blinded by the sunshine, perhaps, and the magic that can only happen on THAT DAY of the year when spring seems so imminent, I had visions of sitting on a patio somewhere, sipping a cold one and soaking up some rays.

But alas…it is still March.  By 4:30 PM, the sun was sinking awfully low in the sky.  No patio beers for me.  Sigh.

I settled instead for picking up some Bud Light Wheat on the way home and enjoying a cold one by the heat of the radiator.

Yes, I did put it in a frosted mug with a lemon to make it look classier for this picture.

Today’s RUN: Can I just say how excited I was to run in shorts and a T-shirt today!  SO excited!

I set out with the idea that I’d do a little mini-tempo run on my usual 5-mile route and tried for 7:30 pace.  I finished in 37:40, which is like 7:32, so pretty damn close!  Good enough for me – especially with a belly full of waffle.

…and a Friday Funny

I love the site Stuff White People Like – it’s absolutely hilarious.  One of my best friends and teammates from college sent this to me this afternoon and it made me smile!  I’m sure I must have read it at some point before, but it cracked me up (http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/01/26/27-marathons/)

***************

#27 Marathons

January 26, 2008 by clander

In life, there are certain milestones of physical activity that can define you.  A sub 5 second 40 yard dash, a 40 inch vertical leap and so forth.  To a white person, the absolute pinnacle of fitness is to run a marathon.  Not to win, just to run.

White people will train for months, telling everyone who will listen about how they get up early in the morning, they run when it rains, how it makes them feels so great and gives them energy.

When they finish the marathon, they will generally take a photo of themselves in a pair of New Balance sneakers, running shorts, and their marathon number with both hands over their head in triumph (seriously, look it up, this is universal).

They will then set goals like running in the Boston Marathon or the New York Marathon.

If you find yourself in a situation where a white person is talking about a marathon, you must be impressed or you will lose favor with them immediately.  Running for a certain length of time on a specific day is a very important thing to a white person and should not be demeaned.

Also worth nothing, more competitive white people prefer triathlons because Kenyans can’t afford $10,000 specialty bicycles.  If the subject ever comes up, just say that triathletes are in better shape than football and basketball players.  It’s not true, but it will make the conversation a lot more genial.

***************

Hilariousness.

Today’s EAT: The hubs and I cooked dinner together and I concocted some Open-Faced Garlic Parmesan Burgers:

Not a recipe per se, but: chop onions.  Saute with minced garlic for a few minutes.  Mix with lean ground beef, shredded Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and paprika.  Form in to patties.  Broil (or grill if you have a grill – you lucky bastard).  Serve on half a bun with sweet potato fries and a salad – and lots of ketchup, obviously. 🙂

Today’s DRINK: I also concocted a cocktail for our Friday evening in!

Chilled vodka, Hansen’s pomegranate diet soda, and a splash of chambord.   Just a little bit sweet and sparkly – and a lot delightful on a Friday night!

Today’s RUN: 5 miles easy/recovery, up and down a very windy Hudson River Park path on my normal 5-mile route.  Ugh – it was all tailwind on the way out and all headwind on the way back.  I was actually swearing at the wind as I plodded toward home.  Finished it in 43:30.

Also did an hour of Vinyasa yoga this morning, which was much needed.  I’m really sore from something.  I don’t know if it’s the new class I did this week or my long run, but my booty huuuuurts!!

Wide open spaces

This west coast girl has lived on Eastern Standard Time for seven years now, but I’ve gotta admit – every time I head westward, I think to myself, I’ve gotta get back here.

Skiing in Park City was just awesome.  I’m very lucky to have generous in-laws who take us on an annual ski trip – Colorado, Montana, Utah, etc.  As a teenager, I skied plenty on the local mountains near Seattle, but it wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve been fortunate enough to experience real destination skiing!  Honestly, nothing beats a great ski vacation. And nothing is more breathtaking than being surrounded by snow-capped peaks under a massive blue sky.  Talk up Caribbean beaches all you want, but I think the mountains are a hundred times more beautiful.  Not to mention more fun!

But now it’s back to reality.  Le sigh. I need to live in the mountains.  Someday….

Today’s EAT: Let’s not discuss the Quarter Pounder with Cheese that I inhaled during my very short layover at Midway.  Okay?  Okay.

On to dinner then.  I probably should have just opened a can of soup or something, but I had a hankering for some raw fish, so I ordered some delivery sushi from Soho Sushi.  It wasn’t the best sushi I’ve ever had, but it was pretty inexpensive and satiated my sushi craving.

Unagi, yellowtail, salmon, white tuna, and a spicy yellowtail scallion roll.  And a side of miso soup.

Have I mentioned how much I love the food delivery aspect of NYC life?  Any kind of food I want – I can click a few clicks on SeamlessWeb and it’s at my door in 20 minutes.  Love.  This is totally spoiling me for living in any other city in the future.

Today’s DRINK:  Sushi dinner is incomplete without a cold light beer.  Does this totally bring back memories of college for anyone else?

Or senior year of college anyway, when we’d upgraded from cans of Nattie Light.  Super classy!  I’m not sure why we had a random bottle of Rolling Rock in our fridge – maybe the hubs picked it up a while back? – but it was tasty and a good compliment to my sushi dinner!

Today’s RUN: I was going to run when I got home tonight, but after a full day of traveling and lugging all of my ski equipment up five flights of stairs, I decided that was workout enough for the day.

I really haven’t run much in the last week, as I’ve been busy skiing (duh).  I did go running a couple of times in Park City though – just easy after-ski stuff.  I skied every day I was there, and pretty hard a couple of days, so any sort of real running was out of the question.

Time to get back into a normal training routine this week!  Do I really have to race a half marathon in three weeks?  Eeks.

Vacation!

Hello from Park City!  Yes, I am on vacation this week, and it’s a ski vacation – my favorite kind!

While there’s plentiful eating and drinking happening here (and not so much running!), I probably won’t be posting much this week.  I’ll see you all next week when I’m back in the swing of things!

I’ll take bronze, silver and gold

Forbes published a list of America’s Worst Winter Weather Cities this week.  The top three cities to win this dubious distinction:

1) Cleveland

2) Boston

3) New York City

Well that’s just awesome.  These are the three cities in which I’ve spent the last seven years living.  Let’s just call it a sweep!

Honestly, Cleveland and Boston I definitely get.  My experience is limited so far with NYC, but I haven’t found the weather to be that bad.  Certainly no worse than Minneapolis, which came in at #6.  Or somewhere like Buffalo, which apparently didn’t make the list at all.

So, Cleveland in the top spot.  Um…congratulations, Cleveland?  I lived there for almost 5 years and I’ve gotta say that winters were pretty brutal.  Maybe that’s why I am rolling my eyes at how the New Yorkers are all freaking out about the snowstorm that’s blowing through tonight.  Big deal.  When your baseball home opener gets canceled because of two feet of lake effect snow – in April – then you can complain.

And Boston?  I concur.  The icy winds, the giant mounds of snow that lingered on street corners until spring had long since sprung…yuck.  Somehow it seemed so much colder in Boston than NYC, even through geographically they’re not so far apart.

While the inclusion of New York in the third spot is somewhat baffling, I can appreciate how a big snow might handicap city life and create problems that more suburban locales don’t have to deal with.

At the same time, I kind of think snow is fun in NYC.  On the first night it snowed here, it was a Saturday night and the hubs and I ventured out for a cozy little dinner at one of the little pubs on our block – pubs that, on your average weekend night, are filled with screaming 22-year-olds.  (We happen to live on one of the big bar-crawl streets in Manhattan.  I know.  Fitting, right?)

But on that snowy night, it was beautiful and quaint, as neighborhood locals ventured out into the unplowed streets and filled the bars, settling in for good conversation over hot toddies.  Gone were the ever-present honking taxis, the bachelorette parties, the college kids clustered on the sidewalk.  It was magical.

Anyway.  The Forbes list definitely resonates with me, and I’ll take pride in my apparently thick skin for having battled seven winters in the harshest of the harsh climates.

And although I don’t love winter (does anyone?), it doesn’t tell the whole weather story.  I’d like to see a Forbes list that compared weather, period.  While we have lots of snow in the Northeast/Great Lakes, at least we don’t have to deal with hurricanes (looking at you, Florida), wildfires and mudslides (ahem, California) or incessant clouds (giving the side eye to my beloved hometown in Washington state).

Today’s EAT: The pasta-with-a-protein concept is a weekly staple around here.  Not the most exotic or exciting dish, but always tasty and very easy to prepare.  Tonight’s version was sundried-tomato chicken sausage with onions, garlic and tomatoes over whole wheat spaghetti:

With a big salad, of course.  Very filling!

Today’s DRINK: I opened this Laboure-Roi Chardonnay in order to put a splash in with my sauteing onions, and we finished the bottle with dinner.  It was pretty meh.  While it was only $10, there are so many better inexpensive wines out there.

Today’s RUN: Due to the sideways-falling snow, I never made it out today.  Not even to the gym – it didn’t seem worth getting my feet wet!  I did do a 25-minute Pilates workout and a 45-minute yoga workout from the OnDemand selection, though!

I hope this crap melts soon.