So, we had a bit of snow here in Boston.
It’s sort of amazing to me that with all the technological advances of the 21st century, things still come to a screeching halt for Mother Nature. Of course, thanks to some of those technological advances, Tuesday was a sort of work day anyway. In addition to job stuff, I spent a couple of hours shoveling. That was real work. I’m glad I train for life.
I hunkered down with some friends Monday night. There was wine and stories. A guitar singalong. Sledding down streets. The usual urban adventures.
Times like this lend themselves well to slow cooked meals that stick to the ribs, so I made a fabada right before the storm hit. A fabada is a Spanish bean stew filled with pork parts. Traditionally, a pig trotter and ear are thrown in, but I wasn’t about to make a special trip to the grocery store before #snowmageddon, so I used what was on hand: pancetta, pork loin, chorizo, and pork belly. Pancetta was the only non-traditional ingredient, but it worked.
This is a meal best cooked overnight and then allowed to sit for a day, as the beans soak up more flavor as time goes on. But if time is short you can always eat it right away; it’s still pretty delicious straight out of the oven.
1 lb white or navy beans
1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic
6 cups chicken stock
1 lb chorizo sausage, sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 to 2 lbs pork loin, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 oz pancetta
8 oz pork belly, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 Tb paprika
salt to taste
balsamic vinegar/glaze (optional)
Combine beans, onion, garlic, and stock in a large dutch oven and bring to a boil over high-heat. Reduce heat and let simmer for an hour. Heat oven to 250. Add meats, paprika, and salt to the beans and put the pot in the oven (if you need more liquid, add water to cover the beans). Cook six to eight hours, until beans are tender. Remove from oven and let cool. If you can wait a day to eat it, do. Serve drizzled with a bit of balsamic, or balsamic glaze.
So this is the new year. After a whirlwind two weeks of travel (Vermont, England, and Madrid), I’m just now registering that 2015 is in full swing. With that, some reflection into the past year is probably due.
I started 2014 by signing up for a half ironman, a goal that largely defined my year. Over eight months of preparation, I rediscovered my love of biking and swimming, trained in locales near and far, braved the elements, and built some great friendships. Ultimately, it was that journey, not the race itself, that made the experience so worthwhile. I had a lot of fun training for that race, even if the end result wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for.
While I spent a good amount of time training, I made time for fun as well. I skied regularly for the first time in more than a decade. I mountain biked in California, whale watched in Nova Scotia, hiked in New Hampshire, and swam in rivers in North Carolina. I made new friends, had dinner parties, baked cakes, and even fished a little. It was a pretty full, and awesome, year.
That said, my life looks a bit different than it did a year ago, and if things go well, there are some changes on the horizon. I’m hesitant to set outright goals for myself, since I’m not 100 percent sure what life will look like in six months. It may not be reasonable to commit to another half iron race, but I do want to leave the option on the table. That said, here’s a few things I’m aspiring to in 2015:
– Run 50 miles a month. This is a big deal, as I haven’t done more than 50 miles a month since July, but it averages out to less than 15 miles a week. My hip has been feeling pretty good, and if I’m consistent with stretching and training, I can do it.
– Do at least three olympic distance triathlons. I love tris, and the olympic is a distance I’m confident I can train for even if other aspects of life need more attention. This will also encourage me to keep biking and swimming, which I love.
– Break two hours in the half-marathon. I’m looking at a late spring race.
– Complete a Presi traverse. I love hiking, and I’d like to do a lot more of it this year.
– Bike the Kancamangus. This seems like it would be really pretty. Hard, but pretty.
– Record the good. There’s a lot to be said for focusing on the positives in life. That’s why I’m doing a “rememberlutions” jar again.
This isn’t everything I want to do in 2015, but financial and career goals aren’t as interesting to talk about, so I won’t bore you with them here.
It would be almost an understatement to say that 2014 flew by. It seems like it was just a few weeks ago that I was sitting in my living room signing up for a half iron triathlon. But that race was more than four months ago.
The past few months in particular have been a blur of work, races, dinners with friends, runs, and outings. I hiked. I baked cookies. I traveled. At times, it was tough to remember what I did the day before, never mind the week before.
Fortunately, last year my friend Danielle encouraged me to start writing down things that made my day on little slips of paper and collect them in a mason jar. “The idea is to write down the small things that make your days great,” she told me. “At the end of the year, you’ll remember the big things, but you’ll be surprised by the little ones that you’ve forgotten.”
Buzzfeed recently posted a tutorial on this, calling it a “rememberlutions” jar. Mine wasn’t quite as elaborate, but the idea was pretty much the same. I put a mason jar on the shelf next to my bed, and stocked my bedside table with some origami paper I bought years ago. From time to time I’d write down a happening that was fulfilling, delightful, or just happy.
By December, I had quite the collection. I went through the jar before I left for the holidays, and I was surprised at how many of these things I’d forgotten about. A friend’s trampoline birthday party. An epic day that started with running in DC and ended with drinking beers in Franconia Notch. The simple joy of finding green tea fro-yo on a hot summer day.
What surprised me most were the number of happenings that took place outdoors. Whale watching. Catching fish. Climbing mountains. Skiing. Running. Biking. Swimming at Walden. Many took place with friends, but some were things I did alone. It was a good reminder to me that I’m often at my best when I’m moving and enjoying nature, something I hope to do more of in 2015.
I’ll clean out the jar when I get home next week and start all over. I can’t wait to fill it up again.