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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Half Marathon Training {Update 1}

It's Saturday morning, and I've just finished a bowl of steelcut oats with honey, berries, and some granola on top.  More importantly, I just finished my distance run.  My half marathon training is going great.  It turns out that when I started my training plan two weeks ago, I didn't realize how good of shape I was actually in.  I set out on the first of my long distance training runs last Saturday with the intention of running 7 miles.  I ended up getting past my "wall" around 5 miles and was able to run my way through to 8.5 miles instead.  That 1.5 mile microburst ended up giving me a milage surplus (a.k.a. pushed me one week ahead on my training)!  Today's run was slated to be 9 miles, but I pushed through to 9.3.  This felt substantially more challenging than last Saturday's run, probably because I'm suffering a little bit of the gurgleys this morning after drinking an entire bottle of wine with my hunnie last night.  Next week will be a bit of a challenge because its the start of a month of travelling.  My plan is to do my 10 mile run on either Thursday or Friday before I fly out for my weekend in California.  One thing's for sure...there will be no wine drinking the night before my distance run, because a gurgley stomach on an airplane just sounds like a bad time.  My goal for next week is 24 miles

Just go ahead and pretend that my legs are not kinda hairy in this picture...real runners don't worry about that kind of stuff. Pin It

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sun Dried Tomato French Bread

It's Friday.  After narrowly escaping losing his ring finger last week in a training exercise, my hunnie's healing and back at work doing 12 hour shifts.  I'm insanely bogged down between work, research, and my latest half marathon training.  Despite this, I continue to be an advocate for eating at home as much as possible...it's inexpensive and you get to make/eat what you like.  Even after a long day, I enjoy coming home and taking a look in the fridge and pantry to get dinner inspiration.  Well, let me rephrase that: even after a long day, I enjoy coming home and getting to my cooking (as I've usually already planned out the meal in my head by lunchtime).  One downfall of cooking at home is that sometimes you have to eat leftovers.  Even if the food is good, I am just not crazy about leftovers.  Earlier this week my hunnie and I cooked up a delicious southwestern style venison soup in the crock pot.  It was good...so good that I willingly took some leftovers for lunch the next day.  I came home that night desperately wanting to cook but knowing that inside my fridge was a big Tupperware bowl full of more venison soup.  When life gives you soup leftovers what do you do?  Well you could make Parmesan biscuits, or you could try this easy semi-homemade sun dried tomato french bread.  Happily, my hunnie swallowed down the remainder of the soup over the next few days while I filled up on salad and this savoury bread.

Sun dried Tomato French Bread
1 refrigerated Pillsbury Crusty French Loaf
6-8 sun dried tomatoes
8-9 basil leaves
2 sage leaves
4-5 cloves garlic
1-2 tablespoon olive oil (or oil from the sun dried tomatoes)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

In food processor, combine sun dried tomatoes, basil,, sage, garlic and olive oil.  Add in Parmesan and blend until its the consistency of pesto.  On a clean countertop, sprinkle some flour and roll out the french loaf until it's roughly the shape of a rectangle.  Spread tomato pesto over the dough (as if you were spreading sauce on a pizza).  Evenly sprinkle the mozzarella over the tomato pesto.  Roll up the dough so that it looks like an extra long cinnamon roll.  Then slice the loaf lengthwise down the middle and braid the two strands (see example here).  If the dough isn't quite long enough to make a full twisted round, you can do like I did and shape it into a crescent moon shape.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

As an aside, I think I will try this bread braiding method again with cinnamon and sugar for the holidays.       Pin It

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pre Season's Over

I have spent much of the summer running casually (rather than competitively).  Well, except for the days when little Georgia wants to run at a 6:30/mi pace.  Wednesday, in the midst of a 2-day review at work, I realized that the half marathon I signed up for 2 weeks ago at the university's Running Club meeting is taking place on November 11th.  With some basic calculations I was able to determine, to my surprise, that this left me 60 days to train.  Yup, I need to be in half marathon shape in 8 weeks!  Oh, and did I mention I also signed up for a Full Marathon, to take place 21 weeks from now (on Groundhog's Day).  In typical Project Management fashion, I've developed an accelerated half marathon training plan (which then leads into my marathon training plan) in Excel.  Unlike my previous training plans, the half marathon regiment will be more fluid, as I will be doing quite a bit of travelling in October and trying to keep up with my Master's workload.  My goal for the half marathon training will be to meet my weekly numbers, but allow for day-to-day flexibility.  I'm off to a sudden, but successful start, having completed 15.5 miles in the first week of training.  This week my goal is to complete 18 miles. 
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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Soupy Days & Parmesan Biscuits

Lately the weather here has been described by forecasters as being "soupy".  If you're from somewhere like the sunny valley of Northern California, than you (like me) probably have no idea what that means.  Having no clue why our weather lady was talking about food, I ended up perhaps taking the forecast too literally, as I decided recently that I wanted to make a summer soup for dinner.  Full of squash, tomato, hatch green chili and shredded salsa chicken, I think this soup was exactly what forecasters meant when they said "Bear down for a soupy week".  Or perhaps they meant the 70% humidity?

To go along with my summer soup (recipe not included, as it's just throwing essentially whatever veggies you have in a crock pot with some broth and chicken and simmering on high for 3 hours and low for 1-2 more hours) I made some parmesan biscuits.  With my hunnie assisting me, these biscuits were prepped and cooked in under 30 minutes.  They were great with our summer soup, and I think they'll be great with some fried chicken and gravy tonight.

Parmesan Biscuits
2 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon butter, softened
2 tablespoon shortening, softened
1/2 cup shredded parmesan + 2 tablespoon
3/4 cup whole milk
1-2 tablespoon water

Sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Stir in salt.  Using a fork, cut in butter and shortening and dry mixture is crumbly.  Then cut in 1/2 cup parmesan.  Create a well in the center of the mixture and pour in 1/4 cup of milk.  Use your hands (or the fork) to mix in milk, just until combined.  Add another 1/4 cup of milk and repeat.  Again, repeat for last 1/4 cup of milk.  You want the texture of your dough to be sticky, so if necessary, add water until stickiness is achieved.  Drop biscuits onto cookie sheet or spread in a cast iron biscuit pan.  Sprinkle remaining parmesan on top and bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes. Pin It