Musings from a Seattle personal chef
Archive for August, 2006
Refried beans have a bad rap. Sure, while often you’ll find they’re fried in lard in many Mexican restaurants (and yes, they ARE delicious that way), that’s not the only way to cook ‘em. In fact, the way I prepare them, they’re downright diet food!
I often prepare refried black or pinto beans for clients to go along with my Southwestern dishes. They’re nutritious, delicious and very inexpensive. And when cooked in a pressure cooker, they’re relatively fast and easy to make. While I used to do a quick soak (cover the beans with an inch of water, bring to a boil, turn off heat and let sit covered for 1 hour), I’ve found I can eliminate this step. If you want your beans to maintain their shape, then soaking (either overnight or with the quick-soak method) is recommended. But considering I’m just going to mash ‘em all up for this recipe, I don’t bother. You just need to add a few minutes to your cook time. These beans are incredibly healthy and flavorful, and SOOO much better than store-bought!
I’ve been suffering from blog envy. As I read through some of the other food blogs out there, I just can’t help feeling that they’re so much more remarkable, more witty than mine. Granted, I’ve just started and I realize it takes time to get one’s groove on. But it seems that all the other bloggers have a ton of time to create fabulous new recipes, try out fabulous new restaurants, travel to fabulous foodie locales and lead a much more fabulous life than mine. sigh
Okay, time to snap out of it…
This morning I took care of the MOST important preparation for the triathlon:
My philosophy is if you’re going to look like a dork in a wetsuit, goggles and swim cap, you might as well have pretty toes! Now if I can only make it 2 weeks without getting a divot in my left big toenail (I’m notoriously scraping my toes on the side of the pool).
It’s T minus 17 days to the triathlon, and I’m feeling rather prepared. Thanks to a calculation error I greatly over-estimated how many laps equal a half mile (the distance I’ll need to swim in the race), and I’ve already swum it a couple of times, both in the pool and in open water. Here I was anticipating having to swim 35-45 minutes, while it hopefully will be more like 20-25 (I forgot to wear my watch during yesterday’s 1/2 mile Greenlake swim — DOH!)
Next week will be a heavy training one, but then I’ll be tapering off. I need to get more comfortable on my new road bike (particularly clicking in and out of the clipless pedals), but the 40-mile Chateau Ste. Michelle winery ride this Sunday should do the trick. (A couple glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon might provide me some confidence, or at the very least it will dull the pain should I tip over).
It’s fess-up time. Despite my yammerings about how much healthier I eat, how much more I move around, yada yada yada, I have to admit a certain fondness for long, slow-smoked meat. Being able to turn a tough hunk of flesh into delectable, fork tender goodness is the epitome of great cooking, in my opinion. It’s food to feed your soul when the temperatures are pushing 90, the coolers are full of brew and you can only muster up enough energy to lounge on your deck chair.
My brother-in-law introduced me to North Carolina pulled pork in the 80s. He called it “barbecue,” and I couldn’t for the life of me understand when he said he was going to put coleslaw on the barbecue. Being a Yankee, to me “barbecue” meant the barbecue grill; why would anyone want to barbecue coleslaw, and more importantly, how on earth would you keep the coleslaw from falling through the grates? But one bite and I became a convert. Unfortunately it would be almost 2 decades before I again experienced that delightful treat.
I think I’ve only seen the show once (heck, we don’t even GET Nickelodeon any more), but when I saw this jersey I just had to have it! Unfortunately my size isn’t available and I haven’t been able to find it any where else (at least not the women’s version). The only thing better would be a Flamin’ Hot Cheetos jersey (are you listening Frito Lay?)
Here I go again.
The triathlon isn’t for another 4 weeks and I’ve already set my sights on another goal: the Seattle Half Marathon. What IS it about training that gets me so jazzed? Most people would welcome the return to normalcy after a long training program, but I relish the order and discipline it brings. I love creating charts outlining my daily training goals for a particular race as they provide a tremendous sense of accomplishment once the race is completed.
While my darling is content to just run or exercise for the fun of it, I thrive on the camaraderie of a race. I need the number, the finishing medal, the t-shirt. All the numbers, medals, photos (including the one of me finishing just ahead of my darling in the half marathon) and finishing times from previous races are placed in a race binder — another terrific way to chart my fitness progress. From the Teddy Bear bus tunnel run in 1990, to Hood-to-Coast relay races in ’95 and ’96, to numerous St. Patty’s Day Dashes, to the Seafair half marathon in July 2006, I’ve documented them all — 30 over the past 16 years!
My darling gets a kick out of my anal-retentiveness, but fortunately he’s learned to put up with it (even when I drag him out on training runs). After all, he realizes that this lunacy is far preferable to my couch potato days, where my main exercise consisted of hoisting a beer mug in one hand while noshing on chips & salsa in the other. (Mind you, I still hoist a brew and pig out on chips and salsa, but it tends to be preceded by an intense bout of exercise.)
As my darling can attest, I love variety in my food. Rarely will I want to eat the same thing 2 nights in a row. After all, there’s hardly any food I don’t like, so why be boring?
However, there are exceptions to my rule. There are nights where I make something so incredibly scrumptious that I proclaim, “I can eat this EVERY night!” Pizza tends to be one of those items; grilled chicken pitas with hummus and tzatziki sauce another. But lately I’ve been craving Vietnamese spring rolls.
My darling and I LOVE pizza (who doesn’t, really?). However, now that we’ve committed ourselves to a healthier lifestyle, we were concerned that we’d have to greatly curtail our cravings. But the more I thought about it, pizza basically is an entree with meat, veggies and a side of bread in one convenient package. As long as you’re judicious with the toppings — focusing on fresh, flavorful, lean ingredients — who says pizza can’t be healthy?
Today was my first real attempt at open water swimming in preparation for my first triathlon. I survived, but it’s obvious I need more practice if I’m to swim a 1/2 mile by September 10.
The smartest thing I did: I signed up for the open water clinic through Mary Meyer Life Fitness.
The dumbest thing I did: I waited until today — the culmination of SEAFAIR — to take the clinic.
On this last weekend of SEAFAIR, the Blue Angels perform aeronautic acrobatical feats while the hydroplanes attempt not to (frequently without success). Both are cheered on by drunken boating enthusiasts who choke up Lake Washington with exhaust and ribaldry. Our clinic was smack dab in the middle of these festivities, so any hope of smooth, calm swimming was quickly dashed. Our coaches kept stressing that if we could swim in THOSE conditions, our race day swimming experience would be gravy. I certainly hope so, as I need to be able to swim THREE TIMES the distance I did today.
On a bright note, I’ve discovered that sushi — lots and lots of it — is the perfect post-swim meal.