Loving. Learning. Engineering. Life.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

'Tis the Season

'Tis the season to send Santa your wishlist. Thank you PhD Comics for summing up my one and only Christmas wish. 

14 days until my final defense.  Bear Down!
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mom's Sweet Potatoes

Isn't funny how your favorite family recipes are always the ones with very inexact measurements?  The other night our good friend was hosting her annual pre-Thanksgiving dinner party.  Since I won't be able to spend Thanksgiving with my family, I decided to make one of our family recipes to share with friends.  So, the day of the party, I eagerly opened up an email from my mom with the subject header "sweet potatoes"...and gasp...the recipe was in paragraph format with no measurements.  At first, I wasn't sure what to do with "boil potatoes until they seem like they're getting soft" and "add enough brown sugar to the butter until you have a thick syrup".  But after seeing my mom and dad work together in the kitchen making sweet potatoes all these years, I felt I could conquer this recipe of intuition.  The truth is, sometimes cooking is more about feeling than precision.  The results were very enthusiastically received at the dinner party, and I have to say, they were pretty close (but not as perfect) as my mom's.  The recipe below has rough measurements but it's probably better to trust your gut feeling when making these sweeties.
 Mom's Sweet Potatoes
4 sweet potatoes
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
dash of cinnemon
dash of nutmeg
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Lightly scrub potatoes.  Do not peel potatoes or cut out eyes.  Place in pot of water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, lower stovetop to more of a simmer and let potatoes cook for 20-30 minutes.  At about 20 minutes, do the poke test.  If the knife goes in, but the potatoes still seem very firm, remove pot from stovetop, drain out the water, and place potatoes in a bowl to cool.  While potatoes are cooling, set oven to 375 degrees and lightly coat the casserole dish with butter.  Once cool enough to touch, remove skins from potatoes and cut out any eyes.  Slice potatoes (about 1/4 inch thick).  In medium size bowl, melt butter in microwave.  Then add approximately 3/4 cup brown sugar and microwave for another 15 seconds.  Stir mixture and add more sugar if needed to make a thick syrup.  You're looking for a texture with the same viscosity (thickness) as honey at room temperature.  Then stir in cinnemon and nutmeg.  In casserole dish, arrange sweet potatoes in single layer.  Continue alternating until last layer of sweet potatoes has been placed in the dish.  Sprinkle pecans over top (Hint: I saved just enough of the brown sugar syrup so that I could mix the pecans into it and then spread them over the top.  Glazed pecans...delish!)  Bake for approximately 50 minutes, taking the lid off for the last 10 minute to brown the top. 
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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Half Marathon {Update 3}

Well, it took me a week, but I've finally recovered from my cold and my arches have finally recovered from running 13.1 miles in minimalist tennys.  You may be wondering, what possessed me to run even though I wasn't feeling so hot...the thought of 1) having wasted all that time I spent training if I ended up not running, and 2) my parents saying "Com'on cupcake, suck it up".  So even though I was sick and it was a cold desert morning (a dry, 38 degrees), I sucked it up and headed out to the east side with my hunnie in tow.  I decided to take the opportunity to just enjoy myself and this beautiful desert town.  It ended up being a great race!  For 2 hours I enjoyed the quiet of the desert and placed all thoughts of my thesis and work on the back burner.  The best part was seeing my hunnie as I neared the finish line.  I finished with a time of 1:51:36...not a personal best...but still a very strong time.  After the race my hunnie treated me to pumpkin waffels and coffee, a true breakfast of champions if I do say so myself. 

So glad that despite my crazy schedule I was able to stick to my training and follow through with my race.  Hopefully that motivation stays with me as I now begin training for my first full marathon. 
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Friday, November 9, 2012

Half Marathon Training {Update 2}

Just a few days until my half marathon, and I realized I have not really posted a running update since my training started.  Oh well...here's the training breakdown:
  • 8 weeks
  • 129 miles
  • 5k mud run
  • Longest distance run: 11 mi
As far as the training itself, I have to admit it lacked variety.  I didn't do much in the way of speed or strength training...just running.  I always tried to incorporate at least a few hills in my distance runs.  Most of my runs took place in the morning, with start times around 6 AM.  Getting my runs done this early had many perks:
  1. Taking in the orange-blue sunrise
  2. Hearing the coyotes howl in the distance (and crossing the path of a few of 'em)
  3. Not having to deal with traffic (and wierdos who honk at you)
  4. Being done with my run before the work day (and having the evenings for hunnie + Georgia time...and homework time)
A few days ago if you'd asked my if I felt ready for my run, I would have said "yes".  Now I find myself somewhat exhausted from an intense week of Master's work.  Not to mention I woke up all achy and throbby-headed at 1 am this morning.  Hopefully the combination of Advil, Airborne, and some spicy, ginger-y Dahl (lentil soup) will do the trick of getting me back on my feet by Sunday.  Even if I haven't overcome this cold by then, I will still have a ton of inspiration/motivation on the day of the race, as I celebrate all the American Veterans that are apart of my life and all those that support and protect my country every day. Pin It