Monday, February 15, 2010

Valentine's Day, Lunar New Year, and the Olympics

How can you celebrate all these with one meal? Well, when you read a blog that suggests a French styling of fried rice, everything else simply falls into place!
My menu inspriations:
Dumpling Pot Stickers
Ginger Fried Rice
Green Beans & Red Pepper Hearts
Orange Glazed Pork
Banana Ice Cream
Almond Quinoa Tea Cakes

1. Dumplings... these were good on flavor, but labor intensive. Will probably not make again.
2. Ginger & Garlic, for the fried rice. (Yes, it was a lot!)
3. Shiitake & Crimini Mushrooms, to be sauteed in a little Tamari
4. Green Beans, and hearts cut from a red bell pepper. Yes, by hand. With a paring knife. The scraps were finely diced, also for the fried rice.
5. Leeks, for fried rice
We ate the pot stickers (to candle light, with an Amaretto ginger martini, thanks to my sweetheart) as an appetizer. Then took a quick break while I finished the rest of the meal.

Orange Glazed Pork: Dredge pork tenderloin medallions in flour/cornstarch/cayenne pepper. Pan Fry in coconut oil until crispy brown & cooked thru. In a separate pan, thicken fresh squeezed orange juice, 3-4Tbsp tamari, water or broth, and corn starch. Dip the cooked pork in the sauce, and spoon a little extra over the top. Serve on a bed of sauteed mushrooms.

To Serve: Use a large heart cookie cutter to form the rice. Because Matt doesn't like runny egg yolk, I made his fried rice the traditional way, w/ the egg scrambled in. I topped it with a little red heart, from the red peppers. For mine, I fried the egg, and used the same cookie cutter to cut off the excess white, and topped the fried rice. YUM! I diverged from the recipe a bit ~ pan fried the leeks & diced red pepper, added the ginger and garlic, then stirred in the rice & a little tamari. VoilĂ !

And now... dessert!

I wanted to make red bean porridge. But I didn't take the 6 cups of water seriously - because that was Far More than "enough to cover". However, once I smelled the burnt beans (mysteriously simmilar to burnt popcorn) I learned. I'm still soaking the pan.

Next up - the tea cakes, in a maple leaf form! Divine! Husband approved! And the little bit of Canada for the Olympics! (Okay, not intentional - it's just the only fancy non-cupcake pan I've got)

But where's the chocolate? Never fear! Banana 'ice cream' bon bons save the day!

1. Peel, slice, freeze bananas (not pictured) Tip: freeze in a single, not-touching layer
2. Place frozen banana disks in food processor.
3. Put on the lid, turn on, scream and jump when the blade hits the frozen-together banana disks, causing the feed tube to fly out and bananas to spray around the room. Hit the off button as quickly as possible. (not pictured)
4. Try again. pulse - until the bananas begin to resemble actual ice cream. (Scrape down a few times) Now is a good time to step on that last stray piece of banana, so it is cold and squishy between your toes, as you retrieve a freezer tray & waxed paper. Ew.
5. Scoop into balls, place on waxed paper and freeze.
6. Melt some quality chocolate, dip the banana, keep in the freezer until set.
BonBons from two ingredients. No, there are not any left overs.

Happy Valentine's Day, Lunar New Year, and Olympic celebrations!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Window Shopping

I know many people love to complain about Valentine's Day, but I love it. And, this year it coincides with Chinese New Year ~ so you can be sure our menu will be a French Asian fusion!

Here is a charming outfit, some cute dangle earrings, and my new favorite hair products. The smell is deliciously vanilla, but not in a jr. high over-sugared way - leaves my thick & thirsty hair smooth & silky. So in love with this stuff! And the Tiger? I was born in the year of the Tiger, which might explain a few things ;)


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tuscon, the end

Before the fiesta, our cyclo sportif takes care of a little business.

But he did throw down victorious.

And there were many margaritas. Hooray, Monica!

This morning the rain settled over us. Thoughts of riding? Dampened. Running? Do I want to travel with wet shoes?

Adios, Tuscon.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tuscon Day Five

Long false flat climb, on very tired legs. Most of the day was flanked by such:

I rode for 45 minutes, and when the world spun as I glanced over my shoulder, I packed it in. Spent some time avoiding the sun, and noticing a random scratch on my leg.

Yep, those are sneakers & not cycling shoes. I was happy to have a break from the heat and effort, but by the time everyone was finished I was almost wanting to get back in the saddle.

Tonight we'll fiesta. Tommorow we fly home. Still debating one last spin thru the desert.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tuscon Day Four

"A long ride with a small climb." -the cycling house

The day called for a shy 80 miles, of which 24 were of the "up-mountain" variety. On the roll out, my legs felt cold and argued against every incline. We finally made the base of the hill, and grouped up with some friends to start the climb. Knowing it was only a matter of time before I'd be at the back, I decided to start as soon as my water bottles were full.

The very slight incline into Mt Lemmon allowed a spectacular view of the first climb, and the very first double-back. My legs were surprisingly spry up that first stretch, spinning away at 110rpm, and feeling good. I didn't push too hard, knowing that there was MUCH to come. It took longer to be caught than I'd anticipated, so that was motivational.

Nothing much exciting for the first half of the climb - mostly solo, but a great stretch w/ the supernova that is Tina. We were able to chat a bit, I tossed a stealth snowball at her, and then took my first stop break. It didn't last long, refilling the water & grabbing a bit of food to jam in my pocket - but restarting was Painful. Legs were heavy and slow, never fully recovered.

By windy pass lookout, complete with a faux-cobble stretch of road, I was feeling cooked. Shortly thereafter the road switched around and the cliff was now dropping away on my right side. I experienced my first bit of vertigo, and every time I glanced right my brain screamed "death!" Okay, I'm not doing so well at this point. I keep my eyes on the mountain side on the far side of the road, and my wheels close to the white line so that IF a gust or a nasty car were to topple me, there would be plenty of room to fall on the safe side of the guard rail. Around a small bend, under the shadow of a crag, and I have a mini meltdown. A few minutes of bawling (still riding tho - wouldn't want to stop for that) and it's gone. I am so tired. Legs can only spin slowly, rpms at 70, speed under 7mph, and that damn road just keeps going. And if I can't see it in front of me, I can look to the left, against the Next substantial hillside, and see it climbing way over there.

The support van stops one last time for me, more water, more fuel, and we stuff my jacket into my back pocket. There's still a good 8 miles to go, and this is my the last chance to see the support van until the top.

The bulk of the jacket adds just enough to irritate my lower back, but I'm too warm to put it on. My ride is now peppered with short stops, and mini motivators to make it to the next passing zone, or the next park. At one stop I see a squirrel-skunk scurrying up a tree. And then a sign warning of bears for the next 8 miles. Fabulous! All alone, and there are Bears. heh.. I didn't see any, but did narrowly avoid getting pelted by an ice-snowball from a car flying downhill. That little adrenaline rush didn't last long enough to be useful, so I kept chugging up. and up. and up... I've pretty much decided that I'm past my ability to descend this mountain safely, and so my only choice is to keep going up until I find the van. There is snow piled shoulder high along side of the road, and I finally decide to put the jacket on when the wind picks up. I try to take a photo of the 7000 ft elevation sign, but manage to snap my finger instead.

Eventually I see the first of our group descending, and it's Matt. He cheers me on, lets me know I'm about 2 miles from the top, and I plug on. Tired, legs fatiguing, and so ready for this to be done. I'm trying to mentally calculate how long 2 miles will take at my speed.. and since that calculation fails I try to figure out how many songs it might take. At this point, the only thing getting me thru the climb is my earbud & itunes. A few more riders are descending. I finally see Tina, and she tells me that I'm nearly there. A moment later, and I see the van following them down. I flag it down, and we meet up a few hundred yards downhill, the very short descent was enough to scare me & ride the brakes all the way down. He asks me how I'm doing, and thru a series of grunts & nods, I manage to communicate that I'm Done, and would like a ride back, thankyouverymuch. I finish just shy of 40 miles.

We drive back down, my eyes crammed shut against the vertigo and the potential carsickness. I'm exhausted, but the rapid fwooshing of blood in my ears has subsided. My breathing has slowed & been replaced with a hacking cough. It isn't until we leave the post-climb coffee shop stop that I'm starting to feel coherent. And sunburnt. Managed to fry my right triceps and add a little more freckle-burn to the face. An icy dip in the pool, followed by elevated legs, followed by massage, followed by dinner & compression tights. Hopefully that combo will increase my chances of hanging on tomorrow... I hear there will be a long slight downhill on the way back.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Tuscon day three

A long, straight, slight downhill. The kind you can really power down. Which I did, since I Can, and to make up for the very slow climb over gates pass we took to get here.

And, more dessert. Still not my cuppa. Each time I see a saguaro, the lyrics "so he stuck his middle finger to the world" pops into my head. And concidering there are about five thousand of these dotting the landscape, it is getting old.

So, for the even steeper return over the pass, I turned on my playlist, put the iPhone speaker side up in my pocket, and rolled with tunes the very slow 3.5mph climb up.

Tomorrow, more climbing, and more friends will join.

mobile post

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tuscon Day Two

53.5 miles. Started dry, low 50s, and we rode until we found rain, and if it weren't for the cacti in the Sagauro National Park, you'd think it was an Oregon spring ride. Overheated on the way to the park, chilled down drastically once the wind and rain hit (back on went the vest & wool arm warmers) where I powered thru the first half of a twisty, rolling loop. The second half was dominated by a long sustained climb, at which point the steady state riders rode smoothly past me. My groupetto finished the loop & pointed our steeds home, while the others took a second pass.

Rain, on again off again, and within the last 10 miles from home I fall off the back on a small rise. Legs have had it, and I simply can't catch on.. well, I do, after a long solo struggle, but then another rise and I'm slowly drifting backward. We finally catch a break at a red light; that and a quick bite are enough to refresh me. We climb a few more rises of the same kind, and I'm with the group.

Back to the house, shower, many layers, lunch, and a massage. Maybe tomorrow the sun will come out to play, and try to turn me crispy.

Tuscon Day One

I should probably start with an apology to M for being so introverted on the flight... to be honest, I tried to ignore how rapidly this vacation was approaching, because I'm downright nervous.

I'm behind in my training. I'm not feeling strong. I'm worried that my endurance will give out long before the ride is over. I know just how slow I am on the hills, of which there are many. But most of all, I look around the cycling house and feel fat, and my pride is all up in my face with fear that I'll be That Person off the back. Every day.

Yesterday we landed. I didn't even look outside on the approach. Denial. I didn't want to see the hills. I didn't want to acknowledge that we were only an hour from our first, albeit short, ride. We arrived, had a quick half sandwich, then hit the bikes. My breathing? Yeah, gasping & raw as usual. I finished the entire water bottle. One of the guys we rode with was thrilled by the scenery.

I'm not. It's so.. the opposite of everything I love - everything is dry and rough and ready to draw blood and tears from your body. And we're going out there to ride, with little more than spandex and sunblock to protect our skin. Huzzah.