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Vegetable hand rolls

03.21.2014


There are few things as satisfying to me as a good hand roll. I love the combination of not quite warm rice, fish, and nori- it’s like a savory ice cream cone.

Yet until recently I’d never tried to make one at home. Sushi has always been a “going out” food, probably because I’m not too keen on handling raw fish at home. But I’ve been eating more vegetable-only rolls lately, and so when I saw nori at the Asian market a few weeks ago I thought, “I can do that.” So I did, and it was wonderful, and now I wonder what took me so long.

veg rolls

This is really about as easy as making tacos. A few things to note:

- Make sure your grains are luke-warm or warmer. The flavor and texture are better that way.

- Don’t overfill. This will lead to breakage and leakage. If you need more food, make another one.

- Do what you like. Add your favorite vegetables, make a soy and wasabi dipping sauce, slip in some protein (hello, shrimp?), if that’s what gets you excited.

- While the ice cream cone shape you get in sushi restaurants is really sexy, I find it easier and neater to do a more burrito-esque fold. First, fold the bottom up over the filling, then fold each side in. To seal, dip your fingers in some warm water and run over the seam. Voila!

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Vegetarian hand rolls
(makes two)

Two sheets nori
1 cup grains (I used quinoa and brown rice), room temperature
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
vegetable assortment of your choice. I like shredded beets and carrots, pea shoots, avocado, and grated ginger
soy sauce to taste

Heat grains so they are at least room temperature or luke warm (this makes them easier to mix, and I think they fast better this way). Add rice vinegar and sesame oil and mix well. Spread half the grain mixture on a sheet of nori and top with desired vegetables, being careful not to overfill (less is more here). Fold bottom of roll up over filling, and then fold each side over the middle. To seal, dip your finger in luke warm water and run over the edges of your roll. Dip in soy sauce, if desired. Eat as soon as possible, the nori will get soggy if left too long.

 

Schilling Beer Co.

03.19.2014

One of my absolute favorite things after a day of skiing is a good beer. I’m not generally a big beer drinker, but there’s nothing like having a beer in front of the fire after a long day in the cold.

After a glorious day on the slopes last weekend, Mike, Z, and I extended our après-ski with a trip into Littleton to visit Schilling Beer Co. A friend introduced me to this local gem during a trip up north a few months ago, and I was glad for an excuse to return. Mike and Z have just finished a stint in Germany, and so they know good beer. Schilling did not disappoint.

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Owned by a trio of brothers and a life-long friend, Schilling prides itself on combining brewing science with European traditions to make the best beers possible. In my opinion, they’ve done a pretty excellent job. The beers are flavorful and well-balanced, but what I really like is that they have beers that you won’t find at a typical local brewery. While everyone seems to be obsessed these days with IPAs and brown ales, Schilling  draws inspiration from classical Belgian, German and Polish brewing traditions. These guys have spent a lot of time in Europe, and their beers show it. My favorite is the Erastus, an unfiltered Tripel that’s a bit yeasty and citrusy, and generally just delicious.

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The tap room is located in an 18th-century mill in downtown Littleton, right on the Ammonoosuc River. The place feels like a cross between a mountain cabin and an Ikea; very sparse, but also very natural. The tables are small enough to make it easy to cozy up with friends, but big enough for lots of beer glasses and plates. It’s a great balance.

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To round out the drinks, they have a menu of pizzas and plates all cooked in their on-site wood-fired stove. The food is simple, but high-quality and delicious. A pizza and a bowl of lamb stew was ample for our party, along with an obligatory slice of chocolate peanut butter layer cake.

Schilling plans to add a beer garden this summer, and will start selling growlers. There’s also plans in the works to start distributing in Boston soon, so hopefully in the future I won’t have to trek all the way up to the White Mountains to get my hands on their great product.

Bretton Woods weekend

03.16.2014

Weekends usually fly by, but this past weekend went especially fast. I can’t believe that I woke up this morning in New Hampshire!

I headed to Bretton Woods Friday after work with my cousins, Mike and Zuz, and my friend Danielle. D and I were signed up to do a race Saturday, and Mike and Z were eager to do some skiing, so we split a hotel room and made a weekend of it. I’m so glad that we did. I tend to get bogged down in thinking about the things that I should do- laundry, hang curtains, etc. and was thinking last week that it might be better to stay in town. But getting away was actually great- I came home feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.

I can’t remember how I learned about the New England Winter Wild series, but as soon as I did I knew I wanted to do it. The races take place at ski areas throughout the winter, and the races go up and down the mountain. They seemed like the perfect way to put my #weatherproof and #hillsforbreakfast training t0 the test. Danielle, always up for an adventure, agreed.

Still, when the alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. Saturday I questioned my judgment. It was still dark when we arrived at the mountain, and a balmy 35 degrees.

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There are several ways you can tackle the Winter Wild races. They have categories for cross country, AT, and “full metal” (ie traditional alpine ski gear), as well as snowshoes and Yaktrax. D and I kept it simple and opted for Yaktrax. I guess we could have gone “full metal” but that seemed torturous.

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Pre-race selfie

Before we knew it a guy was yelling into a bullhorn and we were off, running past dormant chair lifts and up a ski trail. I think I ran about 100 feet before I realized that if I stopped and walked I could go faster. The snow was soft and kind of slippery, and the trail was a lot steeper than the typical hills I run (I was later mortified to discover this was a green trail. I thought for sure it was blue).

Bretton Woods

We could see the top of the chairlift, and I kept my eye on it as I made my way up the trail. When we got there, we started running, only to discover that there was more uphill. Bummer! We kept on, and I was super excited to be keeping up with a girl on skins. Finally, after 31 minutes, 1,500 feet of elevation and 1.5 miles of trail, we were at the top.

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The first bit down wasn’t much easier. My legs were heavy, and the trail was steep. I took my time in spots, not wanting to roll an ankle or break a knee. But after a while it flattened out, and I started to feel a lot better. By this point the racers had really spread out, and D and I were running alone down a snow-covered trail canopied by evergreen trees. We felt like the only ones in the race.

The end came quicker than we thought- two miles, and 18 minutes of running later. We crossed the finish just under the 50-minute mark.

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We stood around the finish for a while, but eventually headed into the lodge to warm up. There were bagels and nutella, and a raffle where I won some beer from 603 brewery. As part of the race, Bretton Woods sold us lift tickets for $25, so after heading to the hotel for a shower and change, we met up with Mike and Z and did some of the best skiing I’ve done this year. It was the perfect end to the ski season.

Though the Winter Wild series is finished, the group that puts it on also runs the Western New Hampshire trail running series. I may have to give one of these a go…

The race ended what turned out to be a slower than normal week of training. I woke up with a cold last week that left me pretty miserable Monday and Tuesday, and set me back a bit.

Monday: sick
Tuesday: sick
Wednesday: stadium. 30 sections
Thursday: yoga, 60 minute spin, 3 mile run (brick)
Friday: 6 mile run
Saturday: 3.4 mile run, ski
Sunday: rest

Total: run 12.4 miles, spin 60 minutes

Not what I’d hoped for… This week, my goal is to get back on track: run 20 miles, spin at least twice, and get a swim session in.

What’s the best non-traditional race you’ve competed in?

Where I’m at

03.10.2014

I may have been a bit overzealous when it came to New Year’s resolutions this year.  As I sat in my living room on January 1, basking in a post-holiday sugar high, I thought about goals for 2014. I still haven’t broken two-hours in the half marathon, and a string of injuries and illnesses meant less running last fall. But when I thought about my fitness, and what I really wanted to do, I thought about triathlons.

I’ve done a few Olympic distance ones, but I’ve always sort of been interested in something longer. And now that I have some half-marathons under my belt, I figured why not? So without thinking about it too much, I signed up for the Timberman 70.3.

The race is on August 17. I’s a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run. It will be the longest, and likely hardest, race I’ve ever done.

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En route to a new PR at the Super Sunday 5-miler

My training strategy for the winter was pretty simple: to get my legs as strong as possible. My current weekly goals are something like this:
- Run 20 miles per week
- Bike (spin class or trainer) twice a week
- Swim once a week
- Yoga at least once a week

As time goes on I’ll be upping my time on the bike. But I am really starting from zero, so I have a lot of work to do there.

My training last week looked like this:photo 2
Monday: Run 6 miles, do a circuit workout with November Project.
Tuesday: Bike, 60 minutes on the trainer.

Wednesday: I had to do some work early (like 6:30 a.m.), so I skipped NP and did a circuit workout at home. Later that day, I ran 3 miles and then did 15 sections at Harvard stadium. I also had PT.

Thursday: REST

Friday: Swim one mile

Saturday: Run 7 miles, Spin 60 minutes

Sunday: Sick day/ rest; 30 minutes yoga.

Totals:
Run: 16 miles
Bike: 120 minutes
Swim: 1 mile
Yoga: yes, though not a class plus a bit of cross training (stairs and circuit)

I don’t know if I’ll post my exact daily workouts each week, but I will post weekly totals. Some people might find it helpful, and I think it’ll help keep me accountable with my workouts. Feel free to peer pressure me, it works wonders.

As you can see, I fell a bit short on the running last week. I’d planned to do a brick workout (bike then run) on Sunday, but I woke up feeling terrible, so I did some yoga and stretching at home.

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Theraflu and tea, always a winning combo

I’m currently home in bed, nursing a cup of tea and blowing my nose every five seconds. I’m hoping with a bit of tlc this clears up fast.

hiatus over

03.02.2014

And… I’m back. Sort of.

I’m not sure what happened over the pat six months, but I stopped blogging. Yes, in that time I was very busy living- running races, travelling, cooking Thanksgiving dinner, and hosting my family for Christmas. But to be honest, I think my hiatus was fueled more by the fact that my feelings about cooking and eating have changed a lot.

wors to live by

as seen in Harvard Square

My life was very different when I started writing this blog almost five years ago. Since then, I’ve switched jobs, bought a house, and taken up running. Food and cooking are still important, but I increasingly find that my life has gotten broader in ways that didn’t seem to fit into the confines of a self-proclaimed “food blog.” I considered just giving it up, but I missed the writing, and the community aspect of it. I’m also gearing up for a triathlon this summer, and would like a space to keep myself accountable, and to write about my training.

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Atop Ryan Summit, Joshua Tree National Park last month

So, I’ve decided to return, but to focus on whatever I’m fancying at the moment, be it food, or running, travel, or simply writing for the sake of writing. I hope you’ll check in on occasion, and comment on the recipes, give me advice on how to get faster, or just laugh at my bad jokes. It’s good to be back!

S’mores makeover

07.31.2013

For years you’ve been making s’mores: graham cracker, marshmallow, Hershey bar, right?

Well, your life is about to change.

smores

You see that? What’s wrong with this picture? There’s no Hershey bar, is there? That’s right.

I actually hate Hershey bars. I know, it’s practically unpatriotic to say that, but it’s true. They taste waxy and fake to me, probably because Hershey no longer makes real chocolate.

Reese’s peanut butter cups on the other hand? Pass them over. Yes, I know they’re just as fake as a Hershey bar, but that salty/sweet combination reaches something in my soul. I love the almost crumbly texture of the peanut butter, and the way you can peel the chocolate off the sides like the skin from a banana. I’m not alone: last year, Reese’s topped Hershey’s on the list of most popular candy bars.

Yet, despite this, it had never occurred to me to put my favorite candy into a s’mores. And then a friend suggested it at a barbecue last spring. The result was so good I couldn’t keep it to myself.

It also led to some experimenting with Nutella and Biscoff spread. Both were very good. But the Reese’s was the best. You’re welcome.

Got another idea on how to remake a s’mores? Let me know.

boiled peanuts

07.24.2013

Ah, Charleston… we meet again.

IMG_1750I spent a week last month in Charleston, not quite a tourist, and yet certainly not a native. It was a family time, full of early morning runs, afternoons at the beach, and food-filled evenings.

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I spent dusk of the summer solstice kayaking in pursuit of dolphins with my brother. The next morning we were up at dawn, stand up paddle board surfing at the Isle of Palms.

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At times, it felt like I was eating my way through the city: shrimp and grits at Hanks, a memorable order of fried green tomatoes topped with crab at Fleet Landing, and some wonderful savory scones from Wild Flour.

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Yet my favorite times weren’t our nights on the town, but rather evenings in: sipping gin and tonics with my GRAND-mother on her back patio, making key lime pie with my littlest (now not so little) sister, and hosting a mess of cousins for a make your own taco night that featured mahi mahi one of them caught earlier that week (fishing runs in the family).

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One day, my littlest sister, Boo, inquired about boiled peanuts. If you’ve never had a boiled peanut, you’re missing out. Yes, they’re peanuts, but rather than the crunchy treat most are used to, boiled peanuts are soft and salty, and half the fun is peeling the little guys open to get to the nugget of meat inside. You can’t help but run into them in the south: at the grocery store, in gas stations and roadside stands. It seems that everyone below the Mason-Dixon line must love them some boiled peanuts.

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Anyway, Boo wanted to make her own boiled peanuts. “I don’t think it’s that tough,” I told her. “I think the hardest part would be finding raw peanuts.” Low and behold, the next day we were in the produce section of the Piggly Wiggly when we ran into a bin of them. Boo’s face lit up, and we brought a pound or so home.

IMG_1748We set the raw peanuts in a pot of salted water and left them to simmer. A few hours later we had boiled peanuts. It was really that easy.

Hot boiled peanuts

1 lb raw (green) peanuts
4 cups water
1/4 cup salt
optional: 1 Tablespoon red pepper flakes, Old Bay or Tabasco sauce

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer two to three hours, or until the peanut meat is soft and mushy. Drain and serve. Can be stored a few days in the fridge.

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